Arizona voters make their way to a polling place to cast their ballot during the midterm elections on Nov. 6, 2018. Photo by Ralph Freso | Getty Images
A federal judge has ordered Arizona to extend its voter registration deadline, which had been set for the end of Monday, until Oct. 23.
Two advocacy groups, Mi Familia Vota and Arizona Coalition for Change, sued Secretary of State Katie Hobbs last week, arguing that the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated an extension of the Oct. 5 registration deadline and that the original deadline would burden their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
The groups urged the court to push the deadline to at least Oct. 27, just one week before the Nov. 3 general election, which they said would allow them to register 25,000 more people and allow for another 65,000 to register.
U.S. District Court Judge Steven Logan pushed the deadline instead to Oct. 23, which is the deadline to request an early ballot for the general election. He issued an injunction barring state and county election officials from enforcing the original deadline.
Hobbs won’t appeal the ruling, according to spokeswoman Sophia Solis. The Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, who intervened as defendants in the case, are appealing the ruling to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Mi Familia Vota and Arizona Coalition for Change argued that the coronavirus outbreak limited their ability to reach out to voters, and that voter registration did not grow in proportion to Arizona’s population growth since the 2016 election. And while people can register to vote online, Logan noted that many people lack internet access.
“Ballot access is an extremely important right, and it has been restricted during this unprecedented time,” Logan wrote.
Logan noted that 31 states have later voter registration deadlines than Arizona, including many that allow registration up through Election Day. He said voter confusion over the new deadline will be “minimal” and that the defendants “have failed to show the administrative burden on the state outweighs the burden on Plaintiffs’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.”
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