As Maricopa County election audit resumes, its constitutionality is questioned

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The State Senate’s review of Maricopa County election results continued today after a week off. The U.S. Justice Department has indicated that what’s going on at the coliseum may be in violation of the U.S. Civil Rights Act. We talked about it with local attorney and author, Robert McWhirter.

Representative Elise Stefanik says that the Department of Justice is trying to block the audit in an unconstitutional move. McWhirter said that she is correct in saying that states are responsible for writing their own election laws and that the constitution left that to the states to determine who can vote. This comes with the exception of certain amendments provided to the constitution, however. McWhirter said she is wrong regarding what the states can do and whether they have the total freedom to do it, though.

“The 15th amendment to the constitution says that you cannot deny the right to vote on race, creed, color or previous conditions of servitude, or in other words, whether or not you were a slave. This is why the voting rights act of 1965 came in and said that the DOJ has a role in ensuring racial equality in voting,” McWhirter said. He added that they aren’t stopping anything and that the audit is still going on.

Still, the Department of Justice has warned that the audit may be a violation of civil rights laws and McWhirter confirmed that they have the responsibility to take such action.

“In section 2 of the 15th amendment, it says that Congress shall have the power to enforce this provision by appropriate legislation. The constitution could not be clearer that they have a role to ensure racial and federal equality in voting,” McWhirter said.

Regarding preclearance, the audit and actions behind it may move the state forward to before preclearance was struck down. McWhirter said that if he were in the Department of Justice, he would start looking for another method.

Robert McWhirter, Constitutional Law Expert

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