A coalition of Arizona voting-rights groups has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block new voter-suppression laws enacted by the state Legislature.
The groups, Mi Familia Vota, Arizona Coalition for Change, Chispa Arizona and Living United for Change in Arizona, are challenging two recently enacted measures they argued will make it more difficult for people of color and other marginalized Arizonans to cast a ballot.
John Bonifaz, co-founder and president of Free Speech for All, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Arizona coalition. He said the new laws are clearly unconstitutional.
"Both of these laws are passed with the intent of discriminating against voters of color, and they violate the First, 14th and 15th amendments of the Constitution as well as the Voting Rights Act of 1965," Bonifaz asserted.
Bonifaz contended the measures are part of a nationwide push by Republican-controlled legislatures to disenfranchise America's growing population of Blacks, Latinos and other marginalized communities. GOP lawmakers have not cited any major instances of voter fraud, but claimed the bills will improve "election security."
The two Arizona laws, are designed to make it easier for elections officials to purge people from the permanent early-voting list, and to shorten the time voters have to "cure" mismatched signatures on mail-in ballots.
Bonifaz emphasized their intent is clear.
"They will suppress the votes of millions of voters who seek to participate in the process, but will find it harder to vote, will find themselves disenfranchised, and democracy will be undermined, and the right to vote will be undermined as a result," Bonifaz stressed.
Bonifaz added the plaintiffs seek to have the court declare the laws unconstitutional, to block state election officials from enforcing them, and to ensure continued compliance.
A date has not yet been set for a hearing in the case.