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League of Women Voters, Voting Rights Groups Sue Arizona Secretary of State for Violating Federal Law

National Voter Registration Act violations prevent eligible voters from receiving ballots

PHOENIX−The League of Women Voters of Arizona joined voting rights organizations in a lawsuit filed against Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan Monday, nine months after notifying her office of significant federal voting rights violations.

The lawsuit, filed by the League of Women Voters of Arizona, Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, and Promise Arizona, details how Arizona has continued to engage in known violations of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), a law the League was instrumental in passing. The ACLU, the ACLU of Arizona, Demos, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law are representing the plaintiff organizations.

“Secretary Reagan is failing to ensure that Arizona voters’ addresses are updated in accordance with federal 'Motor Voter' requirements,” said Robyn Prud’homme-Bauer, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Arizona. “The NVRA requires states to update voters’ registration addresses when there is a driver’s license address change, unless the voter opts out of updating their voter registration address.”

This is not happening in Arizona. The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) regularly sends driver’s license address changes to Secretary Reagan’s agency, but the Secretary of State does not use this information to update voter registration records.

“A change of address for voter registration must occur automatically,” said Prud’homme-Bauer. “Not doing so deprives qualified voters in Arizona of the voter registration services they are entitled to under federal law and can result in votes not being counted.”

In November 2017, voting rights groups informed Secretary Reagan that these legal violations deny qualified citizens the right to vote and disproportionately harm voter participation by low-income Arizonans and people of color. Failing to update voter address information leaves many voters at risk of disenfranchisement. Voters whose addresses are incorrect in the voter rolls may not receive an early ballot or may be forced to cast a provisional ballot on Election Day. In Arizona, provisional ballots are not counted if they are cast out-of-precinct.

Arizona’s violations of federal law mean many qualified individuals will not vote in the 2018 election cycle. Almost 70 percent of Arizonans have changed their residential address in the decade between 2000 and 2010, the second highest rate of any state. In 2016, approximately 75 percent of votes cast in Arizona were ballots received by mail.

In the suit, Plaintiffs are asking the Court to order the SOS to count the federal election votes casts by the effected registered voters regardless of where in Arizona they cast their ballots and to send out a mailer to all effective registered voters informing them of the problem and the options for correcting their voter registration addresses.

Contact: Sarah Courtney | 202-263-1332 | [email protected]