WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, March 6, a voter and two conservative groups (the Arizona Free Enterprise Club and Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections, a right-wing legal group founded by Bill Barr and others) filed a lawsuit against Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes (D). Arizona voters who cast an early mail-in ballot must sign an affidavit attesting to their identity; this signature is then compared to prior signatures in the voter’s record to confirm a match. The plaintiffs allege that the secretary of state’s interpretation of Arizona’s 2019 Election Procedures Manual (EPM) governing signature matching procedures violates state law. Specifically, the plaintiffs allege that county recorders are allowed to compare signatures on early mail-in ballot envelopes from prior elections with the voter’s signature on their current mail-in ballot envelopes in violation of Arizona law, which allegedly requires comparing signatures from a voter’s registration specifically.
The plaintiffs request that the secretary be prevented from “enforcing or implementing any provision of the EPM that instructs county recorders to validate early ballot affidavit signatures by reference to documents—including without limitation polling place signature rosters and historical early ballot affidavits—that are not a ‘registration record.’” The plaintiffs also ask the court to invalidate any portions of the EPM that direct this type of signature verification. In 2022, Arizona was home to the highest number of voting rights lawsuits in the country — Democracy Docket tracked a whopping 35 voting and election related lawsuits filed in 2022. This lawsuit is part of an ongoing trend of attacks against mail-in voting specifically in Arizona.