The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco will hear an Arizona voting rights scheme that always puts Republican candidates at the top of ballots.
This hearing will take place January 14 in Brian Mecinas v. Katie Hobbs, case No. 20-16301.
Republicans, who dominate down-ballot races, enacted a ballot ordering statute, A.R.S. 16-502(E), which states the party whose candidates won the last gubernatorial race can put their list of candidates on top of the ballot. As a result, Republican candidates are always listed first on a ballot, giving them an unfair advantage over Democratic candidates.
“That meant in the 2020 election, 82% of all Arizona voters got ballots that listed GOP contenders first in every partisan race. The same will be true in 2022,” the Arizona Republic reports,
“In 2022, the Republicans will be listed ahead of Democrats in all races in 11 of the state’s 15 counties, where Republican Gov. Doug Ducey outpolled Democrat David Garcia in 2018.
“That includes Maricopa County, which has more voters than the other 14 counties combined.”
Democrats acting irrationally
The liberal 9th Circuit will decide whether Democratic committees have the right to sue as parties injured by the law.
Federal District Court Judge Diane Humetewa in Phoenix initially dismissed the Democrats’ suit claiming voters were acting “irrationally” in voting for the top candidate.
Plaintiffs will not be injured simply because other voters may act ‘irrationally in the ballot box by exercising their right to choose the first-listed candidate,’’ Humetewa wrote.
She conceded that even if Democrats had the right to sue, it is not within her authority to develop a “fairer” alternative.
If the 9th Circuit sides with the Democrats, the case will be sent back to Humetewa to hear all the evidence the challengers have.