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Arizona: Protections Against Intimidation of Voters and Election Workers

This resource details state laws and policies protecting against the intimidation of voters and election workers and the disruption of the voting process.

Published: October 28, 2022
View the entire Laws Protecting Voters and Election Workers from Intimidation series

Voters in Arizona have the right to vote free from intimidation under federal and state law. footnote1_mxd15nq 1 18 U.S.C. §§ 241, 594; 52 U.S.C. § 10101(b); Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16–1013. The federal protections that apply to all states are explained here. The following actions are specifically prohibited by Arizona law:

  • Hindering the voting of others. footnote2_oamrfkf 2 Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16–1017(A)(6).
  • Removing or destroying materials that help a voter cast their ballot. footnote3_wyftjew 3 Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16–1017(A)(5).
  • Attempting to convince a voter to vote for or against anything on the ballot within 75 feet of a polling place. footnote4_lt8mn2e 4 Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16–1017(A)(3).
  • Bringing weapons into a polling place or within 75 feet of a polling place entrance, even if the voter is licensed to carry such weapons. Military and on-duty peace officers are excepted. footnote5_3z20zbs 5 Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 13–3102(A)(11), (C).

The below addresses the laws and policies that serve as guardrails against specific threats of intimidation.

Intimidation by Poll Watchers

In addition to Arizona’s voter intimidation laws detailed above, the state places limits on who may serve as poll watchers and what they may do:

  • Watchers must be appointed by the county chairman of each political party, and each political party represented on the ballot may only appoint one representative unless the number of representatives is otherwise mutually agreed upon by the parties. footnote6_wbo139j 6 Ariz. Rev. Stat. §590(A), (C).
  • All watchers must obtain credentials.
  • No watcher may enter a voting booth except to mark their own ballot. footnote7_1jkgk57 7 Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16–590(B).
  • All watchers are subject to removal by the polling location inspector if they interfere with the election process.
  • Watchers at a central counting place are given identifying badges.
  • Watchers may not wear, carry, or display any materials that express support for or opposition to any political entity. footnote8_q2yuxjg 8 Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16–515(F).

Intimidation of Poll Workers and Election Officials

In addition to federal protections against the intimidation of election workers, interfering with the work of an election worker in any manner is a felony in Arizona. footnote9_lk21ek3 9 Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16–1004. It is also a misdemeanor to obstruct any public servant in performing a governmental function. footnote10_7o4520d 10 Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13–2402.

Challenges to Voter Eligibility at the Polls

Although Arizona law permits any properly registered voter to challenge another voter’s eligibility, footnote11_7p77n79 11 Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16–591. state law also provides for some guardrails:

  • Arizona law limits the grounds upon which a voter may be challenged. footnote12_8aictwc 12 Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 16–591, 16–121.01(B).
  • Challenges must be made only to poll workers. No challenger may question a voter directly. footnote13_pg97rlr 13 Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 16–591, 16–592.
  • Any challenges based at all on race, national origin, disability, language, or religion may constitute voter intimidation.
  • Repeated frivolous challenges, or those that are made to harass and intimidate voters, may amount to prohibited voter intimidation, and the challenger may be removed from the polling place.

Arizona law requires a high burden of proof for challenges to be sustained:

  • A challenger must have clear and convincing evidence that the challenged voter is ineligible to vote. footnote14_8q4y1d4 14 Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16–121.01(B).  The challenge is assessed promptly at the voting location by a board made up of one election inspector and two election judges.
  • Challenged voters may vote a regular ballot if they appear to be registered and take an oath and if the majority of the board finds the challenge to be invalid. footnote15_acaug6e 15 Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16–592.
  • If the majority of the board finds the challenge to be valid or if a challenged voter does not wish to take the prescribed oath or answer the inspector’s questions, the voter may still cast a provisional ballot. footnote16_al094h9 16 Id.

Coordinated Canvassing of Voters

While Arizona law does not explicitly prohibit canvassing, both state and federal law clearly prohibit canvassing efforts that are used to intimidate voters. footnote17_rwyu54k 17 18 U.S.C. §§ 594, 241; Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16–1013. Moreover, in response to a proposal in Arizona to conduct a door-to-door canvass of voters to investigate voter eligibility, the Department of Justice sent a letter to the Arizona senate specifically warning that such a system may constitute unlawful voter intimidation under federal law. Any voter who receives a visit from a privately organized canvassing group does not have to answer any questions and should report any incidents of intimidation to their local officials.

Voter Intimidation by Poll Workers

Arizona requires all poll workers to take an oath that they will faithfully and impartially perform their duties. footnote18_bqy930p 18 Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 16–534(C), 16–621(A). In addition, the state places some limits on who may serve as poll workers:

  • Workers must be registered voters in the precinct they are working in unless they are student poll workers (16 and older) or there are not enough poll workers that meet this residency requirement. footnote19_8uufb9o 19 Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16–531(A), (F).
  • No candidate for any office on the ballot may serve as a poll worker during that election. footnote20_0scab10 20 Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16–531(D).

The Brennan Center and All Voting is Local published a detailed resource on the rules and constraints for Arizona poll workers here.  

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