More Fronts Opening in the Voter Access Wars

Arkansas Elections Voting Rights

             New Orleans      The election contest is now set.  Nikki Haley dropped like a rock with Trump ascendant.  The Biden campaign has sent the word out to the Democrats that if they are looking for another candidate, “they need to get over it.”  Behind the headlines while the quarterbacks’ posture and preen, the battle in the trenches is going to be about who has access and actually gets to vote.  We should just get used to it.  There is going to be a drumbeat of stories that emerge on the behind the scenes fights that may decide this election every bit as much as the candidates and their campaigns.   Some of the latest fights to poke their heads up above the headlines are from Arizona, of course and even Arkansas.

In Arizona a federal judge issued a two-handed decision as she reviewed the 2022 voting laws passed by the Republican legislature there and signed by the then Republican governor.  Critically, she dismissed a number of efforts to discriminate against voters, even while claiming the laws were not meant to discriminate.  She held that proof of citizenship claims was valid, forecasting that we will hear a lot more of this.  At the same time, importantly, she blocked the efforts to force local election officials to do monthly purges, especially since they rested on suspicions that someone might be foreign, based on their names or appearances, or their home addresses.  Earlier, the courts had dismissed the part of the law that would have disallowed voters in federal elections to register based on their certification of eligibility, as opposed to more burdensome proofs.  There are 20,000 “federal” voters in Arizona under these requirements.  She upheld the challenges inherent in the Arizona laws that violated the Voting Rights Act or the National Voter Registration Act.  All sides claimed a “win” from this two-handed decision, and, face it, it could have been worse, right?

The judge upheld the requirements that local Arizona officials do their own investigations for purges by double and cross-checking with other official, government databases.  This is somewhat ironic since Arizona and so many other states have run from nonpartisan databases that verify purges more responsibility.  One hesitates to even imagine what some local officials in the Arizona version of Timbuktu out in the dry lands might come up with as a justification for some of these MAGA Trust-the-Vote databases.

And, then I open email to get a notice from Get Loud Arkansas about the Arkansas Attorney General’s efforts to stop all electronic voter registration and bully local election officials to toe his line.

We’re going to see these challenges crop up everywhere like bad weeds.  Our work is cut out for us.