Specifically, the plaintiffs are challenging a part of the 2023 Elections Procedure Manual (EPM) — which has not yet been signed by Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) and Attorney General Kris Mayes (D) and therefore has not been implemented — that allows for the use of drop boxes in the state. The 2023 EPM authorizes county election officials to implement drop boxes for voters to return their early ballots. These drop boxes must be approved by the county and follow the security protocol outlined by the EPM.
The plaintiffs contend that Arizona only provides four ways to return an early ballot: delivered or mailed to the county recorder or dropped off by the voter or for the voter (by a family member, household member or caregiver) at a polling place.
The lawsuit alleges that because using drop boxes to drop off mail-in ballots has not been authorized by the Arizona Legislature, it is an illegal method of voting under Arizona law. In addition, the plaintiffs argue that drop boxes “lack crucial protections afforded to USPS mail collection boxes.”
The plaintiffs request that the court invalidate the provisions of the EPM that allow for drop boxes. The right-wing group also requests that the court block the enforcement and implementation of any provision of the EPM that authorizes the use of drop boxes in the state.
Remarkably, the plaintiffs also argue that using drop boxes can lead to voter intimidation and cite a voter intimidation case out of Arizona in 2022 where a judge ruled to prevent armed right-wing vigilantes from patrolling drop boxes in the state. This is rather stunning given that right-wing rhetoric about the security of drop boxes (which is present in this case) can lead to these kinds of citizen-led vigilante efforts as we saw in Arizona in the midterms.
This lawsuit is the latest in a series of conservative and Republican-backed lawsuits attacking the use of safe, accessible and secure drop boxes for mail-in voting. In Yavapai County, where this lawsuit was filed, about 50% of voters used a ballot drop box during the 2022 primary, according to analysis by Votebeat.