Judge Protects Absentee Voting In Swing State, Rejecting Right-Wing Demands

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A judge in Arizona has refused a right-wing request to temporarily block most (if not all) drop boxes for mail-in/absentee ballots in the southwestern state. The underlying case argued for options for returning such ballots to end with mailing or dropping them off with the county recorder or dropping them off at a polling place, dramatically cutting back on the accessibility of returning such ballots.

A key target of the lawsuit is the latest edition of the state’s Election Procedures Manual, which originates with first-term Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, a Democrat.

The manual had yet to receive formal approval from the governor, though such was probably to be expected, considering the current governor is first-term Democrat Katie Hobbs. Hobbs herself has previously dealt with baseless, right-wing challenges to the handling of elections in Arizona, like amid the state Senate-led audit of the results from 2020 in Maricopa County, the state’s largest by population and a frequent target for election-related conspiracy theories. That operation, which faced security and competency concerns, ended with no upheld finding of widespread fraud, though personnel prepared meandering recommendations for future action around elections.

“On Oct. 27, a judge denied the plaintiff’s request to temporarily block the use of drop boxes,” the voting rights organization Democracy Docket said about the unfolding Arizona case.

Reports have also notably pointed to an active investigation in Arizona into attempts after the 2020 presidential election to undercut the results there. Arizona was among the states won by now President Joe Biden that year — and it was also among the states where Trump allies assembled sham slates of purported electoral college members backing defeated ex-President Donald Trump. Such has reportedly been a focus for Arizona authorities. Individuals who participated as sham electors have already faced criminal charges in Georgia and Michigan, and individuals who helped organize and push the whole endeavor have also faced charges. One such figure, attorney Kenneth Chesebro, recently pleaded guilty in the Georgia criminal case.