A federal judge on Monday ordered Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan to explain comments she made in a news release that appear to contradict her official position on a voter registration lawsuit.
U.S. District Judge Steven Logan is considering a request from the state Democratic Party to force Reagan to allow more than 2,000 people who missed a Columbus Day registration deadline to vote next week.
The Democrats say comments Reagan made in a Friday statement updating registration figures show she does not oppose adding the voters to the rolls. The release said Reagan hopes “to add an additional 2,069 potential voters if the court allows those who registered after the statutory deadline to be added to the rolls.”
Reagan still believes state law does not allow the move but she can add them if Logan orders it, spokesman Matt Roberts said Monday. Such an order will create problems, however, because electronic voting records are already finalized. That means any new voters would have to cast a provisional ballot that will need to be confirmed before the ballot is counted.
Arizona Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Perkins filed a response to the judge’s order for explanation, saying the Democrats are mischaracterizing Reagan’s comments and her position has not changed.
The Democrats allege that Reagan violated federal law by failing to extend registration by a day, to Oct. 11. They noted that there was no mail service on Columbus Day and the motor vehicle offices were closed, methods used by about 40 percent of Arizonans who register.
At hearing this month, the Democratic Party’s lawyer, Kevin Hamilton, urged Logan to ensure that thousands of Arizonans aren’t denied their constitutional right to cast a ballot.
The attorney general’s office said the Democrats waited too long to bring the challenge.