A law that prohibits third-party ballot collection will stay on the books in Arizona for Tuesday’s election, marking a victory for Republicans in the continued legal battle over voter expansion and ballot security.
The Supreme Court granted a stay Friday on an appeals ruling that blocked the law, which bars advocacy groups from conducting get-out-the-vote operations that involve collecting completed ballots and delivering them to the polls.
The legal battle over access to polling has raged throughout the divisive 2016 campaign. As Democrats have advocated for policies that ease access to the polls, like early voting, Republicans have pushed for more regulations to curtail perceived instances of voter fraud by implementing voter ID laws. Amid Donald Trump’s claims that the election is “rigged” against him, the divide has become increasingly evident as his supporters have decried policies they believe benefit Democrats.
The plaintiffs, which include the Democratic National Convention, implored the court to block the law which they say "would expose Arizonans who are presently engaged in ballot collection and do not learn of this court's ruling to a felony conviction and criminal sanctions." They’ve argued that the law plays a role in disenfranchising voters who have a harder time getting to the polls on Election Day.
They stay will remain in place until the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals hears a disposition, which is scheduled to begin with oral arguments in January. In Arizona, polls show Trump holding a slight lead over challenger Hillary Clinton with less than a week left before Election Day.
The case wasn’t the only voting access clash between the two parties in the election’s final days. At a Trump rally in Reno on Saturday, Nevada Republican Chairman Michael McDonald suggested that polling locations in Clark County, which plays home to Las Vegas and a population that is around 30 percent Hispanic, stayed open hours after it should have closed to accommodate a “certain group” of voters who would likely cast Democratic ballots.
"Last night, in Clark County, they kept a poll open 'til 10 o'clock at night so a certain group could vote," he said. "The polls are supposed to close at 7. This was kept open until 10. Yeah, you feel free right now? You think this is a free and easy election? That's why it's important."
A spokesperson for the county said that polling places didn’t extend their times, but did remain open to allow anyone who had been in line before the polls closed to vote.
Despite little evidence of a rigged system or widespread voter fraud, Trump has continuously called for his supporters to act as unofficial “poll watchers” on Election Day.
“We don’t want to lose an election because you know what I’m talking about,” he told a predominately white crowd in Manheim, Pa., last month. “Because you know what? That’s a big, big problem, and nobody wants to talk about it. Nobody has the guts to talk about it. So go and watch these polling places.”
This report contains material from Reuters.