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Arizona's top elections official wants to shut down extended voter registration period

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs warns court that extension could interfere with ballot count. She's seeking a compromise that would end appeal.

PHOENIX — Editor's note: A federal appeals court ordered Arizona's voter registration for the 2020 election to end by Oct. 15.

Arizona’s top elections official is seeking a courtroom compromise that would cut short a judge’s 18-day extension of the state’s voter registration deadline while protecting the new voters registered since the judge’s ruling.

In a filing Sunday evening with the Federal Appeals Court in San Francisco, Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said the extension “imposes a heavy burden on some counties."

She warns that the administrative work associated with registering new voters could cut into the 14-day period for counting early ballots. 

The original voter registration deadline was Oct. 5. Hours before the deadline, a federal judge in Phoenix pushed it back to Oct. 23, ruling that the pandemic had interfered with voter registration.

Ballot counting will start on Oct. 20. 

RELATED: Appeals court ends extended Arizona voter registration deadline

“A final resolution as soon as possible as to the applicable voter registration cut-off is in the best interest of Arizona’s elected officials and Arizona’s voters,” Hobbs said in a “Statement of Position” that was requested by the court.

“Leaving the deadline as Oct. 23 will interfere with the orderly administration of the General Election.”

Hobbs was an original defendant in the lawsuit that resulted in the registration extension. 

She had declined to join the appeal, filed by the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The Republican groups want the appeals court to issue an immediate stay that would stop the new registrations. 

But now Hobbs says she’s changed her mind, in hopes that the court will approve her proposed compromise:

  • Stop the new registrations after a grace period of about a week.
  • Confirm that new registrations after Oct. 5 won’t be disqualified. 

The appeal has moved quickly over the last six days:

  • The court was already scheduled to hear arguments Monday on Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s request to join the defense, as well as arguments on whether to stop the extended registration.
  • Hobbs has asked to address the court on Monday. Her filing says Brnovich and the Republican groups appear amenable to her proposed compromise.

Hobbs said she would not support a compromise that invalidated all new registrations since the judge’s extension.

While Republicans have protested the original ruling, the Arizona Republican Party is emailing potential voters to get registered while the extension is still in effect.

Brnovich's office and the lawyer for the GOP organizations could not be reached for comment.

A spokesman for Mi Familia Vota, one of the organizations that sued to extend the registration deadline, didn't respond to a request for comment.

Read the full appeal below: