An investigation done by voting rights groups in September 2017 revealed widespread violations of Section 5 of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) in Arizona. It was discovered that during change of address transactions conducted at the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) offices, the agency requires voters to opt in to have their voter registration address updated, rather than using an opt-out procedure as required by the NVRA; and when Arizonans change their address online through ServiceArizona.com, the authorized website for ADOT’s Motor Vehicle Division (MVD), voter registration information is not automatically updated. As a result, the League of Women Voters of Arizona, Promise Arizona and Mi Familia Vota sent a notice letter to the Arizona Secretary of State on November 14, 2017 informing that the state was failing to provide its residents with the voter registration opportunities through ADOT that are required under the motor voter provisions (Section 5) of the NVRA.
No changes were made after the notice letter was sent and, on August 18, 2018, the organizations sued the Secretary. They also sought a preliminary injunction to address one of the most egregious violations of Section 5—the state’s failure to automatically update a voter’s registration address for a voter who reports a change of address to the ADOT or its MVD.
Under Section 5 of the NVRA, when a registered voter updates their address with the state’s motor vehicle agency, the agency is supposed to automatically update the voter’s registration address unless the voter requests that that update not occur. Plaintiffs sought relief in advance of the November General Election to ensure that no Arizona voter would be disenfranchised as a result of the Defendants’ failure to provide these address update services.
The federal district court in Arizona declined to order pre-election relief for the 2018 mid-term correcting the Secretary of State's failure to update the addresses of registered voters who submitted a change of address to the Arizona Department of Transportation. Litigation of the case is continuing.
Promise Arizona, League of Women Voters of Arizona, Mi Familia Vota
ACLU Voting Rights Project, ACLU of Arizona, Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Bryan Cave LLP