Supreme Court appears ready to uphold Arizona election measures in Voting Rights Act case

The Conservative majority in the Supreme Court on Tuesday appeared ready to uphold electoral measures in Arizona that would require election officials to ditch tentative ballots cast in the wrong district and limit who can collect postal ballots for delivery to polling stations. The judges heard arguments in the case as dozens of lawmakers considered changes to their electoral laws, including many that constituencies say they could restrict voter access. Ed O'Keefe reports.
Video transcript
- The political and legal battle over electoral laws and the right to vote is getting more intense this morning. Democrats in Congress are pushing for a proposal that would affect all Americans, while Republicans attack state-to-state to facilitate voting. Ed O'Keefe is with us now. Ed, good morning to you. So the Supreme Court just heard arguments about some voting restrictions in Arizona?
ED O'KEEFE: Right, Tony. Lower courts had said that these two laws disproportionately affect color pickers. One of these has to do with preliminary ballot papers, which are often accidentally cast in the wrong district. The other has to do with collecting your postal votes. Someone could pick it up and drop it off at the polling station. Critics call this the ballot harvest. The Supreme Court will likely uphold these two laws. However, the hearing on them revealed one of the reasons Democrats and Republicans continue to argue over these types of laws.
When interviewed by Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the Arizona Republican attorney stated that part of the reason they wanted to keep the laws on the books was purely political.
MICHAEL CARVIN: That puts us at a competitive disadvantage compared to the Democrats. Politics is a zero-sum game. And any additional voice they get from unlawful interpretations of Section 2 hurts us. "
ED O'KEEFE: That zero-sum game seems to be part of what is driving the voting rights debate. In Washington, the Democrats who control the House are pushing through a plan they believe will expand voting rights and set new national standards for automatic voter registration and voting.
ZOE LOFGREN: We can deliver the gold standard of reforms to protect Americans' right to vote.
ED O'KEEFE: Republicans say it's going too far.
KEVIN MCCARTHY: Under the Constitution, we generally prefer states and counties to hold elections. Democrats want to change that.
ED O'KEEFE: But in more than 40 states, Republicans are trying to change electoral laws, with more than 250 proposals that critics say will restrict at least some of the electoral access. In Georgia, there are proposals to limit access to postal ballot papers, add ID requirements, and limit the number of early weekend voting days. Republicans say the changes remove unfounded concerns about allegedly widespread electoral fraud.
SHAW BLACKMON: That the integrity of a choice is as important as having access to a choice.
ED O'KEEFE: Democrats say they are disenfranchising minority voters.
BEE NGUYEN: You are supporting a bill so outrageous that it is known nationwide as Jim Crow in a suit and tie.
ED O'KEEFE: So this is in Atlanta down in Georgia. Here in Washington, Democrats today, the law they're going to pass in the House is called the For the People Act. It's only going through with Democratic backing, but it's likely dead in the Senate, where it would take Republican backing to get rid of a filibuster. Lets see what happens.
Meanwhile, President Biden made the nomination for his head of household Neera Tanden in the White House. Withdrawed her nomination last night when bipartisan criticism was raised of, for lack of a better term, nasty tweets about members of both parties. The White House says they will find something else for them instead that doesn't require Senate approval. Tony.
- Yes, the definition of mean tweets is quite elastic given the former president's tweets. Curious, Joe Biden cannot be blamed for rushing to remove this nomination. He stayed with it for a long time. Where from?
ED O'KEEFE: Well, a couple of reasons. First, they wanted to keep Tanden in place because it represents a certain story. She would have been the first Indian woman to have this job. She is one of those women trying to get nominated for senior positions. The other is that they believed they could get at least one Republican vote for it, since at least one Democrat had said they had no interest in endorsing it. But ultimately, when the horse trade was up, they realized that it just couldn't happen. I guess the moral of the story is Tony, just look at your tweets.
- That's what I wanted to say, Ed. Well ... put it well. Alright, thank you very much.
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