AG Frey and Secretary Bellows reaction to further gutting of Voting Rights Act

July 1, 2021

AUGUSTA - Today, the Supreme Court delivered a blow to voting rights in their opinion on Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, consolidated with Arizona Republican Party v. Democratic National Committee.

Both cases involve challenges to two Arizona laws that make it difficult for eligible voters, particularly communities of color, to cast their ballot, perpetuating racial discrimination, which is contrary to the Voting Rights Act. The two laws in question deal with not counting provisional ballots cast outside of the voter's designated precinct and limiting who may handle another persons completed ballot.

In a 6-3 decision, the Court held neither law violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

"This is a devastating decision from the Supreme Court, undermining the promise of equal access for all voters to the ballot box," said Secretary of State Shenna Bellows. "Voting discrimination can and does exist even when the implementing law or policy appears neutral on its face. As the chief elections officer in Maine, I remain committed to ensuring that no eligible Mainer is discriminated against or disproportionately harmed in the elections process."

"Democracy does not work when there are real-world obstacles - not having a vehicle, limited mail services in some rural communities, health issues, lack of childcare - that impede an individuals ability to equally participate in the electoral process," said Deputy Secretary of State Policy Advisor Joann Bautista. "Here in Maine, we will continue to work to combat disenfranchisement and voter suppression."

"Amendments to and case law regarding the Voter Rights Act have made it clear that Congress and the judiciary intend for the Act to be used a defense against voter discrimination," said Attorney General Aaron M. Frey. "I joined an amicus brief with several attorneys general making clear that we agreed with the Ninth Circuits decision recognizing that even seemingly neutral election laws can result in the denial or abridgment of the right to vote on account of race, in violation of the Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Courts decision today moves away from that intent."