ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona AG files lawsuit to stop mailing of ballots over virus fears

Mar 13, 2020, 4:32 PM | Updated: 7:20 pm
(KTAR News Photo/Kevin Stone)...
(KTAR News Photo/Kevin Stone)
(KTAR News Photo/Kevin Stone)

PHOENIX — Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich on Friday filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, claiming a decision made earlier in the day to mail ballots because of coronavirus fears is illegal.

The lawsuit states that Fontes doesn’t have the authority to mail ballots to voters who haven’t requested one under Arizona law for Tuesday’s presidential preference election.

Earlier in the day, Fontes announced the county would send out ballots to all eligible voters — including those who didn’t request an early ballot — for the Democratic primary to limit person-to-person interaction over coronavirus fears.

Brnovich’s office also filed a temporary restraining order to stop the mailing of the ballots, which was granted by a judge Friday, he said.

“The Maricopa County Recorder cannot unilaterally rewrite state election laws,” Brnovich said in a press release. “Fontes is creating chaos in our elections during an already difficult time.

“In times of crisis, the public looks to our elected officials to follow the law — not make reactionary decisions for political gain.”

The Maricopa County recorder acknowledged in a press release the bending of the law but felt that the health crisis created an emergency situation that demanded “decisive action” to protect the public health.

Fontes said several polling places canceled and poll workers backed out due to virus fears.

Fontes later said that he would not fight Brnovich’s temporary restraining order, despite printing nearly 200,000 ballots.

Residents will still vote in person at county polling places on Tuesday.

Voters can drop their early ballots off at polling places until 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino and Peter Samore contributed to this report.

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