Groups Settle Lawsuit With Arizona Over Voter Address Updates

By Bret Jaspers, Steve Goldstein, Lauren Gilger
Associated Press
Published: Monday, January 6, 2020 - 6:00pm
Updated: Tuesday, January 7, 2020 - 12:30pm
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A lawsuit alleging the state of Arizona failed to update voter registration addresses for certain people ended with a settlement Monday.

Voting-rights advocates filed a motion in federal court to have the suit against the Secretary of State's Office dismissed. The dismissal is contingent on the state providing more effective voter registration services for people updating their information at motor vehicle offices or online.

The settlement means updating your voter registration address will be fully integrated with the system you use to update your driver’s license.

“Now your change of address for the Motor Vehicle Division and your address update for voter registration are part of the same transaction,” said Sarah Brannon, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. “So there’s no way to skip it over and not be aware that you have to think about both things together.”

Groups including the ACLU, League of Women Voters of Arizona, and Promise Arizona sued in 2018, arguing a lack of automatic updates to match updated motor-vehicle addresses caused voters to be registered at incorrect addresses.

Advocates also said the inability to update voters' addresses violated the federal National Voter Registration Act.

The lawsuit was brought in 2018 when Michele Reagan was the secretary of state. State elections officials at the time said they were making changes. But it would be a year before they were complete.

According to a press release from advocates, Reagan’s staff testified in 2018 that as many as 384,000 voters could have had out-of-date addresses on file because of the lack of automatic updates. 

"This is good news for the state as a whole. We take concerns regarding access to voter registration seriously, and made it a priority to settle this lawsuit as quickly and responsibly as possible," said Secretary of State Katie Hobbs' office in a statement. "Providing a way for voters to update their registration information while completing MVD transactions is both more efficient and convenient. It makes it easier for voters to ensure their records are current and will help keep the state’s voter registration list more accurate, which is a vital component of election security."

The Show took a look at what the settlement means for Arizona voters with Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services.

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