State appeals court: Arizona early voting system constitutional

PHOENIX – The Arizona Court of Appeals has ruled that the state’s early voting system is constitutional.

In an 11-page ruling Tuesday, the three-judge panel rejected the Arizona Republican Party’s argument that mail-in voting violates the secrecy clause in the state Constitution.

The clause requires that voters must have a way to conceal their choices on the ballot.

More than 80% of Arizona voters use the early voting system that was created by lawmakers in 1991.

It allowed any voter to vote by mail and removed the requirement that voters fill out and seal their ballots in the presence of an officer authorized to administer oaths, the appeals court noted.

The appeals court’s ruling said Arizona’s early voting system provides secrecy “by requiring voters to ensure that they fill out their ballot in secret and seal the ballot in an envelope that does not disclose the voters’ choices.”

It was unclear Wednesday if the state Republican Party will now take the case to the Arizona Supreme Court.

The GOP party filed a similar lawsuit in February 2022 seeking to eliminate early voting before that year’s elections, arguing that “in-person voting at the polls on a fixed date is the only constitutionally permissible manner of voting.”

The state Supreme Court declined to hear that suit, saying it didn’t have original jurisdiction in the case.

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