Supreme Court upholds Arizona voting rules, including ballot harvesting ban

The U.S. Supreme Court on July 1 upheld two Republican-supported Arizona voting laws the legislators say are intended to ensure election integrity.

The decision, delivered by a 6-3 court split on ideological lines, found that neither law violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and that they were not enacted with racially discriminatory intent. Justice Samuel Alito wrote the court’s majority opinion. Justice Elena Kagan led the leftists on the court in dissent.

People with identification are not scarce

The Arizona Republican Party and the Democratic National Committee have been feuding over the laws since before the 2016 presidential election. The case received renewed attention in the aftermath of the 2020 election after many Americans said that coronavirus-era voting provisions, some later found to have been enacted illegally, had unfairly tilted the election to the Democrats.

The laws, approved long before the 2020 election, require that a ballot be thrown out if it was cast in a precinct other than the one matching the voter’s home address. The laws also ban “ballot harvesting,” in which third-party carriers such as unions and activist groups collect absentee ballots and deliver them for counting. Passed in 2016, Arizona H.B. 2023, makes it a felony for anyone other than a family member, caregiver or postal worker to collect and deliver ballots.

The second Arizona law in question requires ballots to be cast in the assigned precinct where a voter lives. If a voter casts a provisional ballot at the wrong polling place, election officials will reject it.

According to the Washington Examiner, “Democrats claimed that the laws are racist because they could disproportionately affect black, Latino, and Native American populations. The DNC, in its brief, called Arizona’s out-of-precinct policy one of the ‘most punishing in the nation’ and accused it of effectively disenfranchising more than 38,000 voters since 2008. It also alleged that the ballot harvesting ban took voting rights away from minorities who rely on third-party carriers to vote.”

In a 2005 bipartisan report, former President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, and former Secretary of State James Baker, a Republican, recommended prohibiting ballot collection. Critics of ballot harvesting can also point to a race in Patterson, New Jersey last year in which candidates were indicted on fraud charges after they mishandled collected ballots.  They were indicted on charges of election fraud, fraud in casting mail-in votes, unauthorized possession of ballots, tampering with public records and falsifying records. Patterson City Councilman Alex Mendez also was indicted for alleged false voter registration.

The Supreme Court’s decision overturns the San Francisco-based U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which found that Arizona’s regulations had a disproportionate impact on Native American, Latino and Black voters and that it was enacted in a broader context of voter discrimination.

Posted July 1, 2021

Washington State’s “sanctuary” laws led to murder by illegal alien, immigration reform group says

Kent, Wash. — An illegal alien charged with murder exploited “sanctuary” laws to remain in country despite numerous arrests for criminal conduct, according to an investigation by the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI).

Jorge Omar Alcantara-Gonzalez, 34, is a Mexican national who was arrested in June after a multi-county 23-day manhunt in connection with the disappearance of Ian Eckles, who lived in the town of Kent, Wash. Eckles’ body has not been found. Alcantara-Gonzalez was arraigned on June 19 and entered not guilty pleas to second-degree murder and 22 other crimes. He is being held on $3 million bail.

While the case of Eckles’ disappearance is tragic, the circumstances of how Alcantara-Gonzalez managed to remain in the United States for so long are even more disturbing, the IRLI said.

King County (Wash.) Sheriff’s Office records obtained by IRLI confirm that he had been arrested at least four times in the past several years in the state. Among his charges were driving while intoxicated, theft of a motor vehicle and failure to comply. In every instance, Alcantara-Gonzalez was eventually released back into the community.  A review of court records also reveal that he relied on public defenders each time he faced the justice system.

Wanted poster for Jorge Omar Alcantara-Gonzalez

After each previous arrest, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had issued detainer requests to King County, asking local officials to hold Alcantara-Gonzalez long enough for an ICE agent to arrive at the detention center and assume custody of him. ICE altogether lodged four different detainers on Alcantara-Gonzalez following his arrests. The detainers were ignored each time and he was allowed to go free, released back into the community to commit more crimes.

Despite his presence in the U.S. illegally and his repeated violations of the law, King County officials refused to cooperate with ICE’s request to allow a transfer of custody. Even though they were repeatedly blocked in their previous efforts to deport him, ICE announced  on May 28 it would help local law enforcement  locate Alcantara-Gonzalez after he became a suspect in Eckles’ disappearance.

“This case is a perfect storm of reckless sanctuary policies and a failure to enforce our immigration laws,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “The alleged perpetrator entered the U.S. illegally, re-entered after multiple deportations, committed numerous crimes and was shielded from further deportation. The family of Mr. Eckles are right to be furious about this. If not for sanctuary policies in Washington state, Mr. Eckles would likely be alive today. State and local leaders there have a lot to answer for.”

Welcome, illegal immigrants 8x5

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, signed an executive order in February 2017 that forbids state agencies from enforcing federal immigration law.

Doubling down on this sanctuary measure, Inslee in May 2019 signed into law the “Keep Washington Working Act,” which prohibits jails in the state from holding detainees for federal immigration officials based solely on an ICE detainer or immigration hold. The law is considered one of the most radical sanctuary policies in the country.

“I think it’s absolutely disgusting that a form of government could release somebody like that back into the population after committing crimes in a country that they don’t belong in legally,” Nathan Eckles, Ian’s brother, said to IRLI. “This all could have been avoided so very easily if these cities that have these policies would have just let immigration do their job,” he continued.”

While state law supersedes anything passed at the local level, King County also has in place its own anti-immigration enforcement measures. An ordinance passed in November 2009 prohibits the county sheriff’s office from inquiring about an individual’s immigration status. King County includes the city of Seattle.