Hobbs says it’s to late to change Arizona’s early voting laws

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs speaks at a press conference at the state Capitol on Nov. 4, 2021./Photo by Jeremy Duda /Arizona Mirror

By HOWARD FISCHER | Capitol Media Services 

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs says the latest bid by the Arizona Republican Party to kill all early voting for this year’s election not only comes too late but would cause chaos in the counties that would have to set up more polling places.

In court filings Wednesday, attorney Roopali Desai, who represents Hobbs, said the party and its chair, Kelli Ward, have known for decades that Arizona allows anyone to vote early. In fact, Desai said, the legislature has permitted some form of early voting since 1918.

Yet they are seeking an order from Mohave County Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen to disallow no-excuse early voting, if not for the Aug. 2 primary, an election where early ballots actually go out on July 6, then certainly for the Nov. 8 general election.

But Desai also told the judge that the challenge by Ward and the GOP, who have been trafficking in unproven claims of massive fraud in early ballots, actually has a more sinister purpose.

“Their claims are part of a broader ongoing effort to sow doubt about our electoral process to justify infringing voting rights,’’ she said, noting that early and mail-in ballots made up nearly 90% of the votes cast in the 2020 general election. “Even though plaintiffs’ claims are legally baseless, they threaten our democracy.’’

The lawsuit by Ward and the state GOP contends that the Arizona Constitution requires that ballots be cast in person, and only on Election Day.

Much of that claim is based on language which says that “secrecy in voting shall be preserved.’’ Attorney Anthony Kolodin says that can’t happen when people have their ballots at home where they can be influenced by others, ranging from employers to unions, who pressure people to vote a certain way. But he said someone casting a ballot in a voting booth, alone, can’t be coerced.

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