Arizonans who aren't yet registered but want to vote in this election have only through Thursday, Oct. 15, to sign up.
In an order issued late Tuesday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that U.S. District Court Judge Steven Logan acted illegally when he extended the state's voter registration deadline from Oct. 5 until Oct. 23.
"The district court's order was an obvious abuse of discretion,'' wrote the judges.
But two of the appellate judges said it makes no sense to compound the problem by immediately halting all new registrations. Instead, they left the door open for two more days.
Potentially more significant, the order spells out that anyone who registered after Oct. 5 — as Logan allowed — will keep their right to vote on Nov. 3 despite missing the original deadline. The only requirement is that their registration forms must "reach county election offices" by that Thursday night deadline this week.
Only Judge Jay Bybee dissented, saying those who registered after the Oct. 5 deadline — a date set in state law — should not be allowed to cast a ballot for the general election. But the majority said an immediate and retroactive halt would only further complicate matters, forcing election officials to undo the registrations that already came in.
So far, according to data compiled Tuesday by the Secretary of State's Office, there were 26,652 new names added to the registration list since Oct. 5. That includes 8,317 Republicans, 6,237 Democrats, 393 Libertarians and 11,705 not affiliated with any recognized political party.
On top of that, another 74,035 people used the window the opportunity to update their registrations. That can include changing parties and updating addresses.
The 9th Circuit's order came over the objection of Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich. He was willing to allow those who already registered to vote but sought an immediate cutoff of new signups.
Brnovich told the court that he — and not Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs — represents the state.
The Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee filed their own objection through attorney Attorney Kory Langhofer.
Langhofer wanted the court to rule that anyone who signed up after Oct. 5 was ineligible to vote, even if they already had registered since that date.
Logan issued his ruling earlier this month following a complaint by Mi Familia Vota and the Arizona Coalition for Change that the COVID-19 outbreak and the resultant travel and gathering restrictions imposed in March by Gov. Doug Ducey curtailed their ability to sign up new voters. Logan agreed to add an extra 2 1/2 weeks to help compensate.
At a hearing Monday, two of the appellate judges expressed doubts about the legality of Logan's ruling. But rather than decide the issue, they directed the attorneys to work out something themselves.
As a result, earlier Tuesday, challengers of the state’s original Oct. 5 deadline, and Hobbs, had proposed to the 9th Circuit judges a compromise deadline of Friday, Oct. 16, but the court decided on Oct. 15 instead.