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U.S. Supreme Court Reverses Ban On Arizona's Ballot-Collecting Law

Democrats argued that the ban on what critics call "ballot harvesting" would suppress the vote, particularly among minorities.

Reversing a one-day-old appeals court ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court says Arizona can enforce its law banning the collection of early-voting ballots by political campaigners. The ruling means that in Arizona, the practice that critics call "ballot harvesting" will be a felony in Tuesday's election.

The law was enacted earlier this year; since then, it's been in a tug-of-war between Republicans and Democrats — as on Friday, when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 6-5 to block the law. Today's ruling changes that.

Here's how member station KJZZ in Phoenix explained it Friday:

"Critics, mostly Republicans, call the practice "ballot harvesting" and say it invites voter fraud. Republican lawmakers tried to halt it by passing a state law that made it a felony to turn in someone else's ballot, with an exception for relatives, caregivers and roommates.

"Democrats sued, saying ballot collection is key way to get out the vote, especially from minority households. They argued the law violated the Voting Rights Act."

The state of Arizona immediately sought a stay on the 9th Circuit's ruling that blocked the law, H.B. 2023, Friday.

"The state's stay application went to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is responsible for the geographic area that includes Arizona," SCOTUSblog reports. The site's Amy Howe adds that Kennedy then took two steps: He told Democrats to get their response to him by 9 a.m. ET Saturday, and he referred the stay request to the entire court.

The Supreme Court issued its stay on the block shortly after 11 a.m. Saturday, "in a brief two-sentence order," SCOTUSblog says. It did not provide details about how individual justices viewed the case.

The full 11-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court is slated to review Arizona's law in January; the Supreme Court says that the challenge to the law will have to wait until then.

Saturday's reversal came one day after several federal courts, including the 9th Circuit, ruled in Democrats' favor Friday, in what has become a state-by-state legal battle over voting standards and rules.

As Barbara Campbell wrote for the Two-Way last night, in addition to Arizona, federal judges in North Carolina, Ohio, and Kansas respectively moved to: reinstate voters whose registration had been stripped; order all parties to refrain from any voter intimidation; and block a proof-of-citizenship requirement.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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