(Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Saturday ordered an Arizona state law that restricts the collection of ballots by third parties back in place for Tuesday's election, a victory for Republicans in an intensifying state-by-state legal battle over access to voting.
The Supreme Court granted a stay of a U.S. appeals court ruling that on Friday had temporarily blocked Arizona from enforcing the law that prohibits advocacy groups from collecting completed early ballots from voters and delivering them to election offices as part of get-out-the-vote efforts.
The stay will remain in effect pending a final disposition of the appeal by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court order said. The appeals court has scheduled oral arguments in the case for January.
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Polls have shown Republican Donald Trump with a small lead in Arizona over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential race.
Democrats have accused Republicans of enacting state laws intended to make it harder for minorities and others who tend to back Democratic candidates to cast ballots. Republicans have called these laws necessary to guard against voting fraud.
Arizona late Friday filed an emergency appeal asking the U.S. Supreme Court to allow it to enforce the law Arizona's legislature approved earlier this year.
Plaintiffs in the case, including the Democratic National Committee, argued the law is unconstitutional because it unfairly impacted the ability of minorities to vote.
In asking the Supreme Court to deny a stay, the plaintiffs said reinstating the law "would expose Arizonans who are presently engaged in ballot collection and do not learn of this court's ruling to a felony conviction and criminal sanctions."
(Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; editing by Grant McCool and Franklin Paul)