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High court sets hearing for Arizona ‘ballot harvesting’ law

January 1, 2021 GMT
FILE - This Nov. 5, 2020 file photo, shows the Supreme Court in Washington.(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
FILE - This Nov. 5, 2020 file photo, shows the Supreme Court in Washington.(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

PHOENIX (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court said it will hear arguments in March on an Arizona law that prohibits anyone but a family member, household member or caregiver from returning another person’s early election ballot.

A federal appeals court in January 2020 struck down Arizona’s ban on so-called “ballot harvesting,” ruling that it violated the Voting Rights Act, disproportionately affects Black, Latino and Indigenous voters and was enacted with discriminatory intent, The Arizona Republic reported Thursday.

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The appeals court also found that the state’s policy of discarding ballots if a voter went to the wrong precinct violates the law.

The case began after Republicans in Arizona passed the law making it a felony to return someone else’s ballot to election officials in most cases and Democrats sued, arguing the practice is important for voters who do not have transportation, a nearby polling place or timely mail service.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, argued that the ban is a basic means of curbing the potential of fraud or tampering during an election.

The law remained in effect through the presidential election in November. The appeals court held its decision while the Supreme Court was asked to take the case.