All eligible voters are entitled to exercise their right to vote free from harassment and intimidation from baseless challenges to voter qualifications. Arizona law permits only a qualified elector of the county to challenge a voter’s eligibility to vote, and political party challengers must be previously designated and credentialed as observers by their party. A.R.S. § 16-590; A.R.S. § 16-591.
A qualified elector challenging a voter’s eligibility must have clear and convincing evidence that:
- The voter has voted before in that election;
- The voter is not the person whose name appears in the roster/e-pollbook;
- The voter has not resided in Arizona (or the relevant locality) for at least 29 days before the election;
- The voter is registered at an address that is not permitted for registration purposes; or
- The voter is not otherwise a qualified elector, for example, the voter does not live within the proper electoral district or is not at least 18 years old.
Challenges must be directed to poll workers, and challengers shall not directly confront voters or question voters about their voting qualifications. Challenges must be promptly decided in the voting location by a board made up of the inspector and two judges, pursuant to applicable law and the Elections Procedures Manual.
- The voter must be permitted to vote a regular ballot if: (1) the voter appears to be registered and takes the prescribed oath, or (2) a majority of the board finds the challenge invalid.
- The voter must be permitted to vote a provisional ballot if: (1) the voter refuses to take any oath; (2) the voter refuses to answer the inspector’s questions material to the challenge; or (3) a majority of the board finds the challenge is valid.
Critically, challenges based in whole or in part on race, national origin, appearance, surname, language, or religion are not permitted, and violate federal anti-discrimination laws. Repeated challenges without a sound basis that delay voting, challenges that are otherwise intended to intimidate or prohibit qualified voters from voting, or challenges that involve additional confrontational or harassing behavior may amount to unlawful voter harassment and intimidation and warrant removal from the voting location.