TUCSON – A federal judge has ordered the voter registration deadline in Arizona to be extended to Oct. 23, 2020.
Judge Steven P. Logan of the U.S. District Court for Arizona granted a preliminary injunction on the voter registration deadline until October 23, 2020 after two nonprofit organizations, Mi Familia Vota and Arizona Coalition for Change sued.
The Court found that the plaintiffs showed “that fewer voters will be registered in this State if the deadline is not extended… the harm suffered is loss of possibly tens of thousands of voter registrations, and a burden to Plaintiffs’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to organize voters. To the extent that Intervenor-Defendants argue Plaintiffs cannot establish harm based on expenditures made to register voters, Plaintiffs made no such argument and thus it will not be considered by the Court.
Plaintiffs offer data that shows that they could not reach the same number of voters during the pandemic months. (Doc. 2 at 8) Before COVID-19, Plaintiffs were registering about 1,523 voters a week, which dropped to 282 a week during the restrictions. After COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, their registration numbers returned to almost the same as before the pandemic. Defendant argues the right was not restricted and that more voters have registered in 2020 than during the 2016 presidential election. Plaintiff rebuts this argument by showing with state and census data that the State population has grown since 2016, and that the voter registration did not grow proportionally this year.”
“While this Court acknowledges the efforts made by the Secretary and the State to make voter registration easier, the Court is also cognizant of the large population of Arizona that lacks access to the internet,” wrote the judge. “Registering to vote has never been easier for some, though others are not so fortunate. Ballot access is an extremely important right, and it has been restricted during this unprecedented time. Furthermore, the change in data collection from 2016 to now does not account for the percentage drop in voter registration, particularly considering the great deal of population growth.”
“The Court asked the Defendant to address the administrative burdens on the state in its Response, and Defendant did not do so, beyond referring to difficulties with voters who register too close to the election requesting an early voting ballot,” noted the judge. “Those voters may not receive or return their ballots in time to be counted. Early voting closes on October 23, 2020. Defendant also argues that election officials will have to process early votes alongside new voter registration if the deadline is extended. Defendant generally cites the state interest in orderly elections. Intervenor-Defendants argue that the deadline is necessary to ensure voters have lived in the state for 29 days before voting (a state voter eligibility requirement), that Defendant needs time to verify voter residency before Election Day, and that extending the deadline will result in voter confusion.”