By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services
Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is trying to do what the head of the Arizona Republican Party considers an end-run around a U.S. Supreme Court ruling about when votes can be counted.
Hobbs is proposing to require county officials to count votes for certain offices even if the person shows up at the wrong precinct. So votes for president and statewide offices would be tallied despite being cast at the wrong polling location.
The move comes less than three months after the nation’s high court rejected a bid by the Democratic National Committee to actually force the state to count such out-of-precinct votes. The majority concluded that there is nothing legally wrong with the current practice of discarding such ballots.
But Bo Dul, the chief legal counsel for Hobbs, said the ruling does not preclude her boss from changing the rules.
“There’s nothing in statute that requires these ballots be rejected,” she told Capitol Media Services. What there is, Dul explained, is a provision in the current Election Procedures Manual which says only those ballots cast in the correct polling place be counted.
It effectively was that policy that the Democrats unsuccessfully asked the Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional based on claims that is more likely to affect minority voters.
Dul said that manual is something that state law requires the secretary of state to create. More to the point, she said that since the prohibition on counting those ballots exists only within the manual, Hobbs is free to change it.