Was the Supreme Court right to uphold voting restrictions?

TL;DR (2-minute read)

  1. SCOTUS approves new, controversial Arizona voting laws. Democrats disapprove of division whilst Republicans approve.
  2. These 2 laws are the result of the controversy during the 2020 presidential election, in which then-president Donald Trump claimed election fraud in Arizona.
  3. Democrats claim that the new laws violate the Voting Rights Act as they make  it harder for minorities to vote. Republicans claim that the laws do not violate the Act as it is not restricting the ability of minorities to vote.
  4. The SCOTUS was wrong to approve the law that disqualifies votes cast in the wrong precinct as it does violate the Act, but right to approve the law that prevents third-party organizations from collecting mail ballots, and Arizona and SCOTUS should try their best to maintain democracy

The Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. in Nov. 5, 2020 (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

On July 1st, the Supreme Court ruled that 2 new Arizona voting laws do not violate the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which prevents states from using racial discrimination in voting. The first law, the ballot-collection law, would make it illegal for third-party groups to collect mail ballots, while the second law, the out-of-precinct law, would invalidate ballots cast in the wrong precinct. The decision was split among party lines, with all 6 conservative judges voting in favor of the restrictions and all 3 liberal judges voting against the restrictions.

The voting restrictions were the result of widespread controversy over the 2020 US presidential election. Then-president Donald Trump, claimed that the election in Arizona, a key battleground state in the election, was rigged and thus fraudulent. More specifically, he claims that around 168,000 fraudulent ballots were printed on illegal paper. He also claimed that 74,000 mail-in-ballots were received even though they were never mailed. Although these claims have been proven to be false, many still have lots of concerns about future elections, and have thus resulted in many Republicans calling for stronger voting laws to prevent potential fraud from occurring. These stronger voting laws include the controversial out-of-precinct law and the ballot-collection law.

What do Democrats have to say?

According to Democrats, the new voting laws violate the Voting Rights Act by making it harder for minorities to vote. They claim that the inability of third-party groups to collect mail ballots will particularly harm minorities, as they traditionally rely on it to cast absentee ballots. They also claim that the confusing placement of polling places will negatively affect minorities as well. 

Demonstrators call for senators to support the elimination of the Senate filibuster in order to pass voting rights legislation and economic relief bills, as they protest during the “Moral March” outside the Supreme Court in Washington on June 23, 2021 (Saul Loeb)

What do Republicans have to say?

On the other hand, Republicans claim that there is absolutely no proof that the new voting laws negatively affect minorities at all, and that it is up to Arizona to uphold their election integrity. They also state that the main reason that Democrats have been pushing against this new voting law was to give their party a leading edge in future elections.

Who is right and why?

In my opinion, the Supreme Court made both the right and wrong choice on July 1st; they were right in approving the law criminalizing third-party groups from collecting mail ballots, but were wrong in making it so that ballots cast in the wrong precinct are invalidated. Arizona has a history of polling places being put in confusing places in minority neighborhoods. However, third-party mail ballot collecting has not been shown to discriminate against minorities in any way, and should be disallowed in order to allow election integrity. While it is the right thing to do to try and provide a fair and free election for everyone, the Supreme Court and Arizona should also focus on the “everyone” aspect. A democracy cannot be a true democracy unless every citizen is guaranteed free and equal voting.








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