Judge rules at-risk Arizona voters can use virtual options to cast ballots

Oct 6, 2020, 4:25 AM

PHOENIX – An Arizona Superior Court judge ruled Monday that special election boards can help at-risk voters cast ballots in the upcoming election through video conferencing if necessary.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Randall Warner ruled in favor of Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes who previously sought the court order to keep the special elections boards to protect isolated voters.

Fontes previously sought the order to allow special elections boards to use video to help voters in long-term care facilities or hospitals cast ballots in the upcoming election amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“In this ruling, the court set forth the principles which allow us to do what our policy sought to accomplish from the beginning,” Fontes said in a press release. “This is a win for accessibility. We will continue to provide this option to the most vulnerable population of Maricopa County voters when necessary, ensuring compliance with all applicable law.”

Warner said the determination to have a special elections board would be made on a case-by-case basis.

The special elections boards are made up of two members — one Republican and one Democrat —  who assist voters who are ill or have a disability in voting if they cannot vote in person or need help casting a ballot.

Last week, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs issued guidance to all 15 county recorders in the state for procedure for video voting, which sparked lengthy debate with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Attorney General Mark Brnovich over the issue.

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve said that nobody should have to choose between their health and their right to vote,” Hobbs said in a statement on Twitter.

“Today’s decision upholds that principle, expressly stating that the law does not allow the governor and Attorney General ‘to impose on a disabled voter the choice between voting and protecting their health.’”

Ducey and Brnovich argued allowing special election boards over video conference were illegal because they needed to meet with the voter in person. Warner agreed, but said that’s trumped by a federal law requiring that voters with disabilities be accommodated.

The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office previously used video conferencing tools to help voters in the August Primary Election. The boards helped ten voters using the process in that election.

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Judge rules at-risk Arizona voters can use virtual options to cast ballots