Republicans in favor of laws that strengthen election security are praising the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brnovich v. DNC, a case centered on Arizona voting rules that outlawed ballot harvesting and called for provisional ballots cast at the wrong precinct to be thrown out.
The official perhaps celebrating the most is, not surprisingly, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who was named in the case and argued it.
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“It’s a great day,” Brnovich told Fox News after the court issued its decision. The attorney general said he “always believed and always said that we have the facts and the law on our side,” but he was not overconfident going into Thursday because he is aware that judges can be difficult to predict.
The court’s decision upheld the state’s ability to enforce the laws meant to keep the election process secure. Brnovich stressed the importance of using measures to reduce fraud.
“Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our republic and that starts with rational laws that protect not only the right to vote but the accuracy of the results,” he said. “Every American deserves to feel confident that their vote is counted and counted accurately.”
The Democratic National Committee, which challenged the laws, claimed that they were discriminatory in practice and even alleged a discriminatory intent behind the ballot harvesting restriction. Civil rights and election law attorney Harmeet K. Dillon, who serves as the co-chair of the Republican National Lawyers Association, explained that the anti-ballot harvesting law is meant “to make sure it’s the person themselves returning their ballots” and that other people are not filling them out.
Likewise, she said the prohibition against counting provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct “similarly is a fraud protection” because voters are registered at a particular address and this keeps them from being able to vote in multiple locations.
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“Both of these measures being upheld by the Supreme Court protect the integrity of elections in Arizona, and frankly it will enable other states to go forward with similar types of measures with the comfort that the United States Supreme Court has blessed these,” Dillon told Fox News.
Dillon, herself an immigrant and person of color, rejected the Democrats’ claim that the rules were racist because they made it more difficult for minorities to vote.
“There is no empirical or even logical argument for this,” Dillon said, adding that the law makes sure that all votes are counted equally.
Justice Elena Kagan did not buy the idea that the election laws are truly meant to protect the system from fraud. In a scathing dissent, she claimed that states have come up with rules that are “mostly neutral on their face but discriminatory in operation, to keep minority voters from the polls.”
Brnovich respectfully disagreed.
“I think that everyone is entitled to their own opinions – especially a Supreme Court justice – but not their own facts,” he said. “Her comments, quite frankly, are untethered in reality.”
Brnovich did acknowledge that Kagan’s dissent included “good historical background that all Americans should remember.”
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West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey also weighed in on Thursday’s decision.
“The Supreme Court appropriately recognized that the Constitution affords states the right to make reasonable voting regulations,” Morrisey said in a statement. “We must work to protect the integrity of elections. It should only be in rare instances that federal law strikes down a state voting regulation, and the Supreme Court was correct in finding that Arizona’s law was not one of those instances.”
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel called the court’s decision “a resounding victory for election integrity and the rule of law,” and accused Democrats of “attempting to make Arizona ballots less secure for political gain.”
Democratic leaders felt quite differently. President Biden said in a statement that he was “deeply disappointed” by the ruling, which he noted came days after Senate Republicans blocked Democrats’ For the People Act, which aimed to enforce sweeping changes to elections in the U.S.
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“After all we have been through to deliver the promise of this nation to all Americans, we should be fully enforcing voting rights laws, not weakening them,” Biden said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said that with Thursday’s decision, the Supreme Court “continued its unprecedented assault on voting rights,” while Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said that for those who “believe in open and fair democracy and the principle of one person, one vote, today is one of the darkest days in all of the Supreme Court’s history.”