WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, Sept. 26, a federal judge temporarily blocked two provisions of Arizona’s Senate Bill 1260. S.B. 1260 went into effect just two days ago on Sept. 24 and requires county recorders to cancel a voter’s registration if they receive confirmation that the voter is registered to vote in another Arizona county (“cancellation provision”), makes it a felony to forward a mail-in ballot to a voter who may be registered in another state (“felony provision”) and creates a process to remove voters from the state’s permanent vote-by-mail list if the voter is registered in another county (“removal provision”). Voting rights groups sued over these provisions, arguing that they impose “severe restrictions” on Arizonans and burden their right to vote. Today’s preliminary injunction temporarily halted the enforcement of the cancellation and felony provisions; the removal provision was not blocked and remains in effect.
In issuing a preliminary injunction blocking the cancellation provision, the judge concluded that allowing county recorders to cancel voter registrations without communicating with voters is in direct violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which mandates an election official must directly confirm with the voter that they have moved and intend to register and vote at their new address before the county recorder cancels the voter’s prior registration. The judge pointed to other court opinions that “rejected the notion that re-registration amounts to a request to be removed from the voter rolls” and concluded that relying on communication between different county recorders to confirm that a voter is registered in another county is “insufficient to constitute confirmation from the registrant under the NVRA.” Regarding the felony provision, the judge held that the wording of the statute is “too vague to give people of ordinary intelligence notice of whether knowingly registering out-of-state voters is a crime” in likely violation of the 14th Amendment. In declining to block the removal provision, the judge noted that, unlike the cancellation provision, the removal provision does not threaten complete disenfranchisement of a voter; instead, it only removes voters from the permanent vote-by-mail list, but still allows them to vote another way. Because the “availability of alternate means of voting weighs against a finding that the Removal Provisions severely burden the right to vote,” the court let this portion of S.B. 1260 remain in effect.