Average Joe Scotus: Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee

In Arizona, people can vote in person or do early voting by mail-in ballot. Forget the mail-in ballots for a minute, we don’t give a fuck about those. The issue here is in-person voting.

You see, in Arizona, counties can decide between two different in-person voting systems. Precinct-based, or voting-center based. What’s the different you may ask?

In voting center based counties, you can go to any voting center in your county and vote, and you’ll be good to go. But in precinct-based counties, you have to go to your particular precinct to vote. So if someone shows up to the wrong precinct, they can cast a provisional vote, but if it’s later determined that this is the wrong precinct, your vote will be tossed in the trash can, even if you live in that county, are a legitimate eligible voter, and made a legitimate vote.

Apparently, 90ish% of the counties in Arizona use the precinct-based system, which hurts the feelings of the DNC. Their argument is that this precinct-based system that discards legitimate votes because they were merely cast in the wrong precinct violates the Voting Rights Act, because it will disproportionately affect minorities, such as the large Native American, Hispanic, and black communities in Arizona.

If I may wax philosophical for a moment, isn’t this pretty fucking racist from the DNC? It effectively argues that these communities are too stupid and pathetic, compared to their white counterparts, to know how to properly cast a vote. I’ve always found this shit insulting AF, even if there is some observational evidence supporting it.

Going REAL abstract, I tend to think this is more about the economic class of the voter, not the color of their skin or their ethnicity. If you’re poor, you’re likely to be less involved in the political process, because you’ve got other shit to worry about, like how you’re going to pay fucking rent.

Since history has not been kind to many minorities, they tend to disproportionately fit into the “poor” category, which then leads to the data to suggest they’ll be the ones getting their votes tossed more. But that’s not racism, that’s a social status issue.

Anyway, there’s a second part to this shit—Arizona HB2023. You see, in Arizona, there were groups who might pick up your ballot, like if you were older than the Grand Canyon, and couldn’t really go to a polling place or drop off location. Republicans, in 2016, passed this bill to criminalize people from picking up your votes for you (except family members, caregivers, mail carriers and election officials), with a two-year stint in the pokey, and a $150,000 fine on the table if someone does it, arguing fairly that it would just make it easier to tamper with people’s votes, since there’s now a more complicated chain of custody.

There was no evidence this occurred in Arizona, mind you, Republicans were just afraid it would. So this leads the racists in the DNC to argue the Republicans are racist (classic diversion tactic), which is probably true on both counts more often that it should be.

So SCOTUS is being asked to decide if the precinct-based system which tosses ballots, and HB2023 violate the Voting Rights Act.

Michael Carvin for the state of Arizona (and the GOP) was asked by Kavanaugh about his brief, where he claims “ordinary” regulations don’t violate the voting rights act. Carvin was quick to paint the Democrats as essentially arguing minorities couldn’t possibly be asked to leave their house, or it’s an unfair and biased ask, which of course is ludicrous, and he was hoping the justices see it that way.

Brett M. Kavanaugh

Your brief says, “Ordinary race-neutral regulations of the time, place, and manner of voting do not violate Section 2.” And that, of course, will put a lot of pressure on the word “ordinary.” Can you tell us how courts are supposed to distinguish ordinary regulations from extraordinary regulations?

Michael A. Carvin

Well, I think the way the Court has done it countless times in the Anderson/Burdick line of cases and in Crawford, what are the usual burdens of voting? This is not some mystery.

We have a long history of about how people go about voting. They show up at precincts and they cast a ballot.

That requires you to leave your house, but that’s not an ordinary burden of voting — that’s a usual burden of voting. Whereas the other side says, you can never have a system which requires anybody to leave their house.

They claim that they can’t find the precincts because of socioeconomic disparities. They claim that they can’t get to mailboxes because of socioeconomic disparities, which means that the state needs to allow partisan operatives to go collect the ballots.

Well, if that’s true, of course, that means that the only system that would satisfy their test is something where the government is sent house to house to collect the ballots. And I’m just saying that that can’t come with any rational definition of the usual burdens of voting, which is you register and you go cast your ballot.

And that is not a very difficult burden, and it’s certainly not a difficult burden here when 99.8 percent of minorities were able to find the right precinct.

In a 6:3 partisan vote, SCOTUS sides with Brnovich (Republicans), which I suppose was somewhat predictable. They deemed such precinct-based voting policies do not violate the Voting Rights Act, as they are not race based in any way, even if the DNC colorfully argues it will affect minorities more.
They also rejected the notion this creates some unusual burden to ensure they go to the right precinct. We live in an age where everyone has a smart phone or access to the internet, or at least access to someone who has the internet. Figuring out where to go in order to vote properly, is not some crazy difficult law.

The dissenters of course feel the majority essentially made a decision based on semantics, with no regard to ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to vote.

Hear oral arguments and read about the case here

Drop some genius on me here.

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