In an effort to short-circuit a complete count of ballots submitted in some key Arizona counties, including the largest by population (Maricopa), Arizona Republicans have filed suit against county recorders and the Arizona Secretary of State to prevent them from contacting voters to verify signatures on ballots dropped off on election day. From the Arizona Republic:
If there is a mismatch between the signature on file and the signature on an early ballot dropped off on Election Day, some county recorders — including Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes — believe they can contact those voters after Election Day. In phone calls, they allow voters to verify that they did, in fact, sign the green envelope of the ballot, as required by law.
The lawsuit alleges that state law only allows this practice prior to Election Day, not after. It asserts the process is unfair to voters residing in other counties where that process is only allowed before Election Day.
The Maricopa County Recorder, Democrat Adrian Fontes, noted that the practice has been used for years in other counties including Pima County. So why would the Arizona GOP become concerned by it now? The Republic points out the obvious:
At stake is an unknown number of ballots that could tip the result of the U.S. Senate race. Just 17,000 votes separated Republican Martha McSally and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema as of Wednesday evening, a cliffhanger that could take days, if not weeks, to call.
The lawsuit seemed to signal Republicans’ anxiety over Thursday’s expected posting of additional results from Maricopa County, the most populous area of the state, where Sinema has dominated so far.
There can be many reasons for a signature mismatch — people’s signatures change over time, injury or health reasons may cause changes in it, somebody might simply have signed hastily and not had the “right match” with the file version of their signature. Recorder Fontes is putting the voters first, working to ensure that every voter who attempted to cast their ballot has the chance to have their vote counted. The GOP — holding onto a slim lead in the current counts — doesn’t want to allow time for that.
Sound familiar? It should. The Arizona GOP is using the same type of anti-voter, anti-democratic philosophy that led to the atrocious Bush-Gore decision in Florida — that the equal protection clause of the Constitution prevented completion of the statewide recount in Florida which would have revealed that Gore had actually won in Florida and thus won the Presidency. The GOP doesn’t want pesky things like democracy or voters to get in the way of their seizing power. The Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause, in their view, equally protects voters from having their ballots counted. Somehow, I don’t think that’s what our forebears had in mind with the 5th and 14th Amendments.
A full and final count may still leave McSally ahead and make her the new Senator for Arizona. But it is outrageous that Republicans are again trying to keep votes from being counted in an effort to ensure their victory. Every voter deserves to have their voice heard.
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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.