Lawsuit won't stop election officials from moving forward

The Secretary of State's Office and County Election officials are increasingly concerned that a lawsuit regarding the deadline for registering to vote is slowing down local preparations for Election Day.  This year the deadline to register to vote fell on Columbus Day.  While our office, along with nearly every one of Arizona's counties were open for business plus ServiceArizona.com, the plaintiffs have argued that those who's registration was received on October 11 should also be eligible to vote in the General Election.  The Secretary of State has to enforce the laws as they are written and for this reason we could not extend the registration cutoff.  A judge though has the power to direct our office and the counties to include these new voters.  If the judge should order these voters on to the rolls we’re happy to add them.  Regardless preparations for a successful Election Day must move forward. Here is the message I sent to our local election officials: 

 

10/28/2016

Dear County Recorders and Election Directors,

As you know, the federal district court in Phoenix is weighing whether to permit persons who registered (or updated their registration) on October 11th to vote in this election.    The lawsuit was filed late on October 19th (without naming any counties as defendants) and a trial was conducted with less than 24 hours notice last Friday.  The Secretary of State’s office defended the lawsuit, arguing that any last minute changes this close to Election Day would prejudice the counties’ ability to smoothly conduct the election.    We expected a decision earlier this week, but now as of Friday afternoon, there still is no decision from the Court and we have no indication when it might be coming.

We understand this uncertainty places you in a continuing limbo in your ongoing efforts to ensure that Election Day will be a positive experience for the hundreds of thousands of Arizonans that will choose to vote at a polling place.  While we are not standing in your shoes, we do believe that continuing to delay final election preparations is no longer feasible and that the normal machinery of the election process needs to carry forward.

There will inevitably be various shortcuts taken and work-arounds fashioned, but we are there to support you along the way.   To that end, please keep us informed about any obstacle you face where we may be able to assist.   We are committed to making sure any newly-eligible persons are able to vote while ensuring that election operations aren’t jeopardized.

 

Michele Reagan
Secretary of State