Final push to register voters as Oct. 15 registration deadline nears for Arizona

The new deadline came after a court ruling on Oct. 13, which overturned a ruling on Oct. 5 that extended the voter registration deadline from Oct. 5 to Oct. 23, because COVID-19 restrictions could have prevented voter registration efforts.

According to court documents related to the Oct. 13 ruling, two voter registration groups claim that following a state-mandated shutdown on Mar. 30 due to COVID-19, as few as 282 people were registered to vote in a week, during the months of restrictions that followed.

The new deadline to register to vote is Oct. 15 after the court gave a two-day grace period.

“With the two-day grace period, what that does is two things: it does give an opportunity for folks who haven’t quite registered to get registered in the next two days by 11:59 p.m. on the 15th, and it also in the court order provides a safe harbor for those who have already registered," said election lawyer Tom Collins.

People who have already completed registrations during the extension period will be allowed to vote on Nov. 3.

Arizona has recorded more than 47,000 new registrations in the nine days since the deadline was extended.

Advocacy groups that petitioned for the extension had said their number of weekly registrations had plummeted because of the pandemic’s restrictions, though those figures returned to almost the same level as before the pandemic.

Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich and GOP groups are appealing the Oct. 5 ruling that extended the deadline due to pandemic restrictions.

Final push to register voters underway

On Oct. 15, some community groups were in a final push to register voters.

Throughout the day, community groups have been calling and texting, letting people know that this is their last chance to register to vote in the upcoming November election.

Volunteers with Promise Arizona helped first-time voters fill out their registration forms. They say their education and outreach effort this year has been extremely challenging.

"With so many court orders changing the deadline, pushing it up and back, it’s been difficult trying to get everyone all on the same page," said Alexis Rodriguez.

Texting has been their main form of reaching out during this election cycle.

"Due to the pandemic, we had to come up with innovative ways, online or over the phone," said Rodriguez.

Arizona Secretary of State speaks out

In an interview with FOX 10 on Oct. 14, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs says that the great thing was that voters had an extra ten days to register to vote. Certainty for voters was the biggest concern for Hobbs' office, after their appeal of a lawsuit to extend the voter registration to what was Oct. 23. 

"[Oct. 15] is the deadline," said Hobbs. "I think it provides the finality and certainty that voters need, and also the ability for election officials to conduct early voting in an orderly fashion."

Hobbs says the previous deadline, being so late into October, would have caused problematic and administrative issues, causing voter registrations to not be processed. Oct. 23 was also the cutoff to request an early ballot to ensure timely delivery to vote. 

"In this process, voters would have been disenfranchised," said Hobbs. "They wouldn't have gotten mail-in ballot that they requested. They're probably already casting provisional ballots because their ballots haven't been processed, but they're going to early vote."

Since the extension of the voter registration deadline, there have reportedly been more than 26,000 new voter registrations.     
"We're still seeing registrations coming in, obviously, and I think a little bit more heavily weighted towards Republicans, which is interesting because they're the group that have appealed the decision," said Hobbs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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