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Two Maine Officials Join Legal Push Against Arizona Voting Laws They Call Discriminatory

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press

Two Maine officials — Secretary of State Shenna Bellows and Attorney General Aaron Frey — are joining colleagues from other states in urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a portion of the federal Voting Rights Act that bars any laws that make it harder for people to vote based on their race. 

Bellows and Frey have signed onto amicus briefs in two legal cases concerning a pair Arizona laws that they argue discriminate against voters of color.

One of the laws disqualifies provisional ballots that are cast by voters outside their designated precinct, even if it's by accident. Another sharply limits who can submit voters' completed early ballots. 

Bellows says that while those laws apply to everyone, they disproportionately affect voters of color in a manner that violates the Voting Rights Act. 

"Oftentimes, in looking at racism and discrimination, we talk about the difference between intent and impact," Bellows says. "The state of Arizona argued that they had no intention to discriminate. Nevertheless, the data showed the impact was discriminatory, and that's what the 9th circuit court found."

Arizona's attorney general appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which plans to hear it this year. 

Nora is originally from the Boston area but has lived in Chicago, Michigan, New York City and at the northern tip of New York state. Nora began working in public radio at Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor and has been an on-air host, a reporter, a digital editor, a producer, and, when they let her, played records.