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Appeals court puts hold on Az ballot collection ban until after election

A U.S. appeals court on Friday put an Arizona voting law on hold until after the election, saying the restriction on advocates' ability to collect absentee ballots should not be enforced until after the case is argued next year.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 6-5 to prohibit the state of Arizona from enforcing the law now, handing Democrats a victory in an intensifying state by state legal contest over access to the polls.

Arizona earlier this year passed a law which restricted advocates' ability to collect absentee ballots. Plaintiffs in the case, including the Democratic National Committee, argued the law is unconstitutional because it unfairly impacted the ability of minorities to vote.

Polling averages have shown Republican Donald Trump with a small lead in Arizona over Democrat Hillary Clinton, in advance of the U.S. presidential election next Tuesday.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this week agreed to revisit a previous ruling and hear the case before an 11-judge panel. That panel then voted 6-5 to prohibit Arizona from enforcing the law now, court records show.

In an order on Friday, Chief Judge Sidney Thomas wrote that granting an injunction would not disrupt Arizona's ability to conduct the U.S. presidential election .

"It simply would enjoin enforcement of a legislative act that would criminalize the collection, by persons other than the voter, of legitimately cast ballots," Thomas wrote. He was joined by five other judges appointed by Democrat presidents.

A representative for Arizona's secretary of state could not immediately be reached for comment.

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Five dissenting 9th Circuit judges, all Republican appointees, argued that the court should not have interfered with Arizona law so close to Election Day, while early voting is already underway.

The 9th Circuit is based in San Francisco and covers nine Western states, including Arizona.

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