Arizona Court Rejects Right-Wing Challenges to Drop Boxes and Signature Matching Rules

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Arizona’s signature matching and drop box procedures will remain in place ahead of the 2024 election, a state court judge ruled today, rejecting a right-wing bid to upend mail-in voting procedures via two separate lawsuits. 

With almost 90% of the state casting mail-in ballots in 2020 and residents relying heavily on drop boxes, today’s decision is a resounding victory for Arizona voters ahead of the 2024 election. 

Today’s joint ruling resolved two cases brought by the right-wing group Arizona Free Enterprise Club, which is also behind a third anti-voting lawsuit in the state. One of the lawsuits at issue in today’s order challenged the use of drop boxes and the other challenged signature matching policies promulgated in the Arizona Election Procedures Manual. 

In the lawsuit over the state’s signature matching procedures, the Arizona Free Enterprise Club and Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections — a right-wing legal group established by former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr — argued that county recorders were not properly verifying voters’ signatures on early mail-in ballot envelopes against signatures contained in voters’ registration records. 

In today’s order, the judge held that because the Arizona secretary of state has recently clarified that election officials can match signatures on early mail-in ballots with those on voters’ mail-in ballots from prior elections, the group’s legal challenge must be denied. 

Additionally, the judge rejected the group’s argument in its other lawsuit that unmonitored ballot drop boxes violate Arizona law. Once again, the judge found that the state’s drop box rules outlined in the secretary of state’s 2023 Election Procedures Manual comply with Arizona law. 

In denying the Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s claims across both lawsuit, the judge ruled in favor of Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes (D) as well as pro-voting groups that intervened in the cases to defend the state’s mail-in voting rules.

Against the backdrop of today’s ruling, Republicans are continuing to chip away at mail-in voting in battleground states. On par with the trend Democracy Docket noted in 2022 and 2023, anti-voting forces are continuing to target Arizona’s election administration in the lead-up to elections. 

The run-up to the 2024 election has been no different with the right launching a full fledged attack on Arizona’s election administration. Currently there are eight anti-voting lawsuits in the state, seven of which challenge the state’s elections procedures manual. 

Given that the Grand Canyon State will be integral in Biden’s path to 270 electoral votes and will partially determine if Democrats maintain control of the U.S. Senate, it is no surprise that Republicans are doubling down on making it more difficult to vote in Arizona. 

Read the opinion here.

Learn more about the cases here.