WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Voting rights took center stage in Washington on Tuesday. As lawmakers in the U.S. House debated expanding access to polls, the Supreme Court looked at whose votes should count.
The Court on Tuesday considered whether two Arizona voting rules discriminate against minorities.
“Its restrictions on ballot harvesting are appropriate election integrity measures that do not create any disparate impact on racial minorities,” Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said.
The case challenges two state policies that allow a vote to be thrown out if it was cast at the wrong precinct and prohibits someone from delivering another person’s completed ballot.
Arizona Republicans said the laws prevent election fraud. But Democrats argued the policies violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
“If you just can’t vote for those reasons and your vote is not being counted, you’ve been denied the right to vote, haven’t you?” Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor said. “You’re denied something if you’re not given the right to vote…from circumstances that the state could remedy easily.”
A win for Arizona in this case could give states the power to change voting laws, which could make it harder to cast a ballot. But some lawmakers on Capitol Hill are working to make it easier to vote.
“H.R. 1 gives voters choices on how to cast their ballot,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., said of a bill called the “For the People Act.”
Lawmakers debated the legislation Tuesday that they believe would expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics and strengthen ethics rules.
Republicans, however, criticized the effort, saying Democrats want to federalize election laws.
“I rise not only in opposition to this bill but in strong opposition,” Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., said.
The White House wants to see the bill advance.
“It is a priority to the president, something he’ll be working with members of Congress to move forward on,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.
A final House vote on the bill is expected Wednesday.