In an October surprise, a federal judge extended Arizona’s voter registration deadline from Oct. 5 to Oct. 23.
The news came with mere hours of today’s original deadline for Arizonans to register or update their registration. The court’s ruling gives Arizonans another 18 days to register.
Progressive groups Mi Familia Vota and Arizona Coalition for Change sued Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, in a last-ditch effort to postpone Arizona’s Oct. 5 voter registration deadline, citing difficulties registering voters during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Steven Logan told Hobb’s office to direct county recorders to accept all voter registrations received by 5 p.m. on Oct. 23.
Logan agreed that COVID-19 and travel restrictions put in place by Gov. Doug Ducey made it difficult for the plaintiffs and others to fulfill their goal of getting more people to register to vote.
Mi Familia Vota and Arizona Coalition for Change claimed they were on track to meet or exceed their goals of registering 30,000 and 25,000 new voters, respectively, before Ducey instituted his stay-at-home order on March 30. The numbers plummeted soon after, they said. Mi Familia Vota reported registering 1,523 new voters in the last week of March but only registered an average of 193 voters per week between March 30 and the middle of August, when Ducey and the Arizona Department of Health Services eased restrictions on businesses, schools and public gatherings.
Sen. Martin Quezada, D-Glendale, called the ruling a “wonderful news” and suggested the state shouldn’t have such an early deadline to begin with. “I’ve proposed Same Day Voter Registration every year since I’ve served in the #AZSenate,” he wrote on Twitter.
Rep. Jennifer Longdon, D-Phoenix, echoed Quezada, and Rep. Raquel Teran, D-Phoenix, tweeted her thanks to the plaintiffs and other “grassroots organizations.”
Before the extension, Arizonans were already setting records for registration numbers in Maricopa County and statewide.
Numbers from the Secretary of State’s Office shows more than four million Arizonans are registered to vote. Of the four million, 75 percent are on the state’s Permanent Early Voting List. The breakdown shows Republicans make up roughly 35 percent, Democrats 32 percent, and Libertarians, independents and other non party affiliates roughly 33 percent of the vote.
After hitting a record turnout in the August primary elections, many expect to see more than three million ballots cast for the first time this year.
The bulk of new voters registered between the primary election and the original Oct. 5 deadline. Indeed, more than 210,000 voters have registered since the August 4 primary election. The previous record happened in 2008, when 188,000 Arizonans registered to vote between the primary election and the deadline.
Reporter Julia Shumway contributed to this article.