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Appeals court blocks Arizona law that made collecting early ballots a felony

(AP Photo/Ryan Van Velzer)

PHOENIX — A U.S. appeals court blocked an Arizona law Friday that made it a felony to collect early ballots from voters and take them to a drop-off point.

Voter outreach groups immediately geared up efforts after the decision to collect early ballots to bring to the polls.

The legislation, House Bill 2023, was enacted by the Republican-dominated Arizona Legislature early this year and signed by GOP Gov. Doug Ducey. He called it a common-sense effort to protect the integrity of elections and eliminate voter fraud.

“We join 18 other states in this common sense approach to maintaining the integrity of our elections,” Ducey said in a March statement.

The state filed an emergency appeal after Friday’s decision, arguing it wants to keep the status quo for Tuesday’s general election.

Both parties have used ballot collection to boost turnout during elections by going door-to-door and asking voters if they have completed their mail-in ballots.

Voters who have not are urged to do so, and the volunteers offer to take the ballots to election offices. Democrats, however, use it more effectively.

A U.S. District Court judge rejected the Democrats’ effort to block the law, saying that limiting one of several ways voters can return completed ballots didn’t significantly increase the burdens of voting. The three-judge appeals court panel split 2-1 in favor of upholding that ruling.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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