The Supreme Court Just Reinstated a Controversial Voting Law in Arizona

This could be a big deal in a key battleground state.

Matt York/AP

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Update Saturday, Nov. 5: The Supreme Court stayed the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, so the ballot-collection ban will be effect during the election.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked Arizona’s law against so-called “ballot harvesting” on Friday, clearing the way for community activists to go door to door collecting completed ballots as part of their get-out-the-vote efforts. The state of Arizona has asked US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy to issue an immediate stay on the ruling.

The law, Arizona House Bill 2023, made it a felony for people to submit ballots that weren’t theirs. (Election officials, family members, and caregivers were exempt.) State Republicans fought for three years to enact the law, arguing that the practice created an opportunity for people to destroy others’ ballots or tamper with them in some way. Arizona Democrats and community activists said ballot collection was common in the state’s minority areas and that the law was designed to decrease minority voting. In September, a federal judge denied a Democratic challenge to the law, finding that it didn’t disproportionately affect minority voters.

Friday’s ruling opens the door for community activists to collect ballots and turn them in, a factor that could be key in a state with a number of close races, including Democrats’ quest to oust controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The presidential race has recently become competitive in Arizona, a state that hasn’t voted for the Democratic presidential nominee since 1996. Clinton spoke to a crowd of more than 10,000 supporters at Arizona State University on Wednesday.

The ruling doesn’t eliminate the law entirely; it just puts it on hold for Tuesday’s election. A full hearing will take place in January, according to the Associated Press.

This story has been updated.

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