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2,000 Late Registrants Can’t Vote in Arizona

PHOENIX (CN) — Two thousand Arizonans who registered to vote the day after the Columbus Day deadline cannot vote on Tuesday, a federal judge ruled.

The Arizona Democratic Party and Democratic National Committee sued Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan on Oct. 19, claiming that setting the state's voter registration deadline on Columbus Day, a state and federal holiday, placed voters "at immediate risk of unlawful and unnecessary disenfranchisement."

The groups sought to allow just over 2,000 voters who registered to vote on Oct. 11 to the voter rolls.

But on Thursday night, U.S. District Judge Steven Logan ruled that the deadline did not disenfranchise voters, who could register to vote online, at county offices, at Motor Vehicle Division offices or by mail.

"The holiday deadline did not limit the methods of voter registration. It merely imposed a timeframe in which voters had to act in order to register to vote in the general election," Logan wrote.

Democrats' arguments that potential voters could not register at Motor Vehicle Division offices or by mail on Columbus Day failed.

"(I)t merely required those wishing to do so during open operating business hours at some date and time prior to Oct. 10," Logan wrote.

Logan also said the Democrats' lawsuit came too late — nine days after the registration deadline passed.

"(T)he burden placed on unprepared officials by this last-minute request exponentially increases possibility for the disruption to the electoral process and bears the potential to impair the state's ability to guarantee the integrity of its elections," Logan wrote.

He found that had the challenge come before the deadline, "a different outcome would have likely resulted."

The judge did chide Reagan for making Columbus Day the deadline, however.

"The Court also observes the possibility that the Secretary set the deadlines this year without first consulting a calendar, and that if she had exercised her discretion (or her rulemaking authority) from the onset, the predicament faced here could have been avoided."

Reagan said in an Oct. 28 statement that she could not extend the registration deadline.

"The Secretary of State has to enforce the laws as they are written and for this reason we could not extend the registration cutoff," she said.

A spokesman for the Arizona Democratic Party did not respond to a request for comment. It is unclear whether the organization will appeal.

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