Kavanagh comments may keep voting case alive

Scottsdale Rep. John Kavanagh’s comments to CNN may keep alive a challenge to the state’s permanent early voting list. /Capitol Media 

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services  

A 2021 statement by a veteran Scottsdale Republican lawmaker may be just enough to allow voting rights groups to challenge a law eliminating the state’s permanent early voting list.

In a tentative ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Dominic Lanza rejected claims by Mi Familia Vota and others that the 2021 law unconstitutionally interferes with the right to vote.

Lanza said that the statute, approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature, imposes only a minimal burden. And he said the state has presented legitimate reasons, including reducing costs of having to send out early ballots to people who may not be interested in using them.

But the judge said that evidence presented by challengers shows the law will have a disparate impact on different racial groups. And it’s that effect – coupled with the comments of Rep. John Kavanagh – that has Lanza saying he’s inclined to let the case go forward.

The law spells out that if someone does not return an early ballot in at least one of four prior elections – meaning a primary and a general election in two successive years – that person is dropped from what would no longer be called the permanent early voting list.

They still could sign up again to get early ballots. And they could still go directly to the polls on Election Day, though that, by itself, would not count toward once again getting a ballot automatically by mail.

Attorney Rodney Ott, representing the challengers, cited a study that shows that Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely to be “intermittent or rare voters compared to white voters’’ and therefore more likely to lose out on those automatic early ballots. Ditto, he said, of people with lower income.


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