Federal Judge Issues Order Extending Voter Registration Deadline in Arizona in the Midst of the Pandemic

In response to a voting rights lawsuit, a federal judge in Arizona issued an order tonight extending the voter registration deadline in the state to October 23, given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on voter registration.

“[A] core tenet of democracy is to be ruled by a government that represents the population,” U.S. District Judge Steven P. Logan wrote in his decision.  “Due to COVID-19, a portion of the population is prevented from registering to vote, and thus the integrity of the election is undermined in a different way; that portion is going unrepresented.  Extending the deadline would give more time for those voters to register and let their voices be heard through the democratic process.”

Mi Familia Vota, the Arizona Coalition for Change, and an individual voter registration organizer filed the lawsuit on September 30, seeking a court order extending the October 5 voter registration cutoff.

“This is a huge victory for democracy,” says Flavio Bravo of Mi Familia Vota.  “With this court-ordered relief, thousands of more voters will be able to register to vote in the midst of this pandemic and will be able to participate in the November 2020 election.”

This year, organizations that register citizens to vote were effectively prevented from registering voters from March 30, 2020, when Arizona imposed a stay-at-home order and other restrictions on day-to-day interactions in order to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, to the middle of August when those restrictions were lifted. As a result, new voter registration has been far lower than in previous years.

With the lifting of the state’s restrictions, plaintiffs have recently pivoted their operations to adapt to the pandemic, registering thousands of Arizona voters. Yet Arizona’s voter registration deadline—earlier than most states, threatened to prematurely halt those efforts.

“This ruling is a vindication of the fundamental right to vote,” says Reginald Bolding of the Arizona Coalition for Change. “Court intervention here was necessary to address the impact of the pandemic on voter registration. Thanks to this ruling, many more voters will have their voices heard in this election.”

The plaintiffs are represented in this case by Free Speech For People; Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP; and Osborn Maledon P.A.

Read the ruling here.

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