A federal judge extended the voter registration deadline in Arizona from October 5 to October 23 on Monday, ruling in favor of two advocacy groups who sued to push the deadline back due to the coronavirus pandemic.
U.S. District Judge Steven Logan, who was appointed by President Obama, wrote in his ruling that the pandemic made in-person voter registration more difficult, and that "a core tenet of democracy is to be ruled by a government that represents the population."
"Due to COVID-19, a portion of the population is prevented from registering to vote, and thus the integrity of the election is undermined in a different way; that portion is going unrepresented. Extending the deadline would give more time for those voters to register and let their voices be heard through the democratic process," Logan wrote in his ruling.
Mi Familia Vota and Arizona Coalition for Change, the groups that brought the suit alongside an individual organizer, had argued that coronavirus restrictions implemented over the summer made it more difficult for them to register voters through face-to-face outreach. In a statement, Flavio Bravo of Mi Familia Vota called the ruling "a huge victory for democracy."
"With this court-ordered relief, thousands of more voters will be able to register to vote in the midst of this pandemic and will be able to participate in the November 2020 election," Brava said.
Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, opposed moving the deadline to register to vote but said in a statement on Monday that she would not appeal the ruling.
"With the general election less than a month away, Arizonans deserve a quick resolution to this matter. Providing clarity is more important than pursuing this litigation," Hobbs said. "I urge anyone who still needs to register to vote or update their registration to do so as soon as possible. Do not wait."
However, lawyers for the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which joined the case to oppose the extension of the voter registration deadline, filed an appeal on Monday evening.
Arizona is considered a critical swing state in the upcoming election. Afrom September found that likely voters in Arizona supported former Vice President Joe Biden over President Trump by three percentage points, 47% to 44%. Arizona also has a hotly contested Senate race this year, with Democrat Mark Kelly challenging Republican Senator Martha McSally.