Democrats sue Arizona for not extending voter registration deadline

PHOENIX (AP) -- The Arizona Democratic Party has sued Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan for refusing to extend the state's voter registration deadline by a day even though it fell on a state and federal holiday.

The suit filed in federal court Wednesday seeks an order requiring Reagan to place anyone who filed an otherwise valid registration by Oct. 11 on the voter rolls for November's election.

"...A substantial number of voters are at immediate risk of unlawful and unnecessary disenfranchisement in the November 8 Election," the lawsuit says. "These voters should not be turned away at the polls, but instead allowed to exercise their fundamental right to vote."

Reagan refused to move the Oct. 10 deadline even though there was no mail service and state Motor Vehicle Division offices, where residents can register to vote, were closed because of Columbus Day, despite calls by Democratic groups for her to do so. The state party, joined by the Democratic National Committee, noted that more than 40 percent of voters register in-person or by mail, and no one could register in person after Oct. 7 or by mail after Oct. 8.

They allege that Reagan's action violated the National Voter Registration Act, the 1st and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and Arizona law.

Reagan's spokesman, Matt Roberts, wasn't immediately available to comment Thursday. But earlier this month, he said state law doesn't allow the deadline to be changed despite what previous Secretary of State Ken Bennett did in 2012, when he extended registration by a day because of the Columbus Day holiday.

"Apparently the last administration felt comfortable wandering outside state statutes -- this particular secretary does not," Roberts said.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich's office refused to weigh in, saying in a Sept. 28 letter to Democratic state Rep. Eric Meyer that conflicting statutes and court decisions allowed Reagan to user her discretion on whether to extend the deadline.

Arizona was one of 10 states that initially refused to move their deadline forward by a day, but several agreed to changes