WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Friday, Feb. 25, the Arizona Republican Party and a Republican voter filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s mail-in voting laws. At the center of the lawsuit is Arizona’s extremely popular no-excuse mail-in voting system, which has been in place since 1991. The petition alleges that the Arizona Constitution does not allow for any system of early voting, including absentee or mail-in voting, because “[i]n-person voting at the polls on a fixed date (election day) is the only constitutional manner of voting in Arizona.” Because of this, the petitioners argue that Arizona’s early voting statutes should be struck down. If the Arizona Supreme Court does not agree with the lawsuit’s interpretation of the Arizona Constitution, the petitioners ask the court to reinstate the mail-in voting rules that were in place before 1991 and require individuals to have a “valid reason” to cast a mail-in ballot.
The lawsuit also focuses on two issues related to mail-in voting: signature verification and drop boxes. The petition alleges that Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) did not properly codify signature verification procedures for mail-in ballots during the 2020 election cycle, which “perpetuates inconsistent and non-uniform signature verification procedures by allowing her and the various Arizona counties to create and change their own procedures at will.” The petition also alleges that the secretary exceeded her authority by allowing the use of drop boxes for mail-in ballot collection, arguing that they are not allowed under the Arizona Constitution. Overall, the lawsuit asks the state Supreme Court to decide whether “the Secretary must include signature verification guidelines [in election rules], whether she may create drop-box rules without legal authority, and whether mail-in voting statutes are constitutional.” In an unusual attempt to bypass the state trial court and avoid any lengthy appeals process, the lawsuit was filed directly in the Arizona Supreme Court. The petitioners are asking the state Supreme Court to exercise jurisdiction and decide the “purely legal” questions of the case before the next election cycle.