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Expert: Arizona leads with election related lawsuits ahead of 2024

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Alex Gonzalez

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(Arizona News Connection) Despite concerns about the next election, one Arizona legal expert says courts have generally sided with voters and democracy. 

Victoria Lopez is the director of program and strategy with the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, and said in 2022, Arizona had the most court cases on election denial and voting processes in the country. 

Just last week, an Arizona grand jury returned an indictment charging two of the three Cochise County supervisors with felony offenses for their refusal to certify the 2022 general election results.

Lopez said the message is simple: elections matter. She added that a majority of the time, "when democracy was on the docket, voters won." But she said litigation is complicated and drawn-out, but can still instigate mistrust and skepticism. 

"The final outcomes of some of these cases has not yet been determined," said Lopez, "but at least the majority of those cases that have been filed, the outcome has been pro-voter, pro-democracy outcomes."

Lopez said there is what she calls a "robust coalition of partners," that work alongside the ACLU of Arizona on democracy issues and cases challenging suppression of voter rights in the state. 

Lopez highlighted a lawsuit filed on behalf of Mi Familia Vota and Voto Latino which challenges HB 2492, a law that enacted new proof of citizenship requirements for voters

The case is currently in federal district court.

Lopez explained the Arizona Court of Appeals recently ruled that counties don't have the legal authority to execute hand counts of all their ballots in an election. That decision stems from a 2022 case in which Cochise County was challenged in its efforts to preform a hand count audit. 

In northwestern Arizona, the Mohave County Board of Supervisors recently rejected a bid to allow a hand count in 2024. 

Lopez recognized supporters of hand counts believe it'll ensure better accuracy. 

"But part of the arguments that were being made there in support of the full hand count audit," said Lopez, "was that the county should move forward and litigate the question of whether a hand count audit is constitutional under Arizona law."

Lopez contended Arizona has an extensive history of what she calls attacking "basic voting measures," like drop boxes, that she argues make elections "efficient and effective." 

In mid-October, a conservative legal group filed a lawsuit challenging the use of drop boxes, arguing it is an illegal voting method under Arizona law. 

She encouraged Arizonans to register to vote or update their existing registration as well as get informed.

Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.