Registration error affects up to 6,000 Arizona voters

PHOENIX (AP) — A voter registration error may have caused some Arizona voters to get a mail ballot with only federal races, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said Tuesday.

A problem with the link between voter registration and driver’s license databases may have caused as many as 6,000 voters to be improperly flagged as lacking proof of citizenship documentation on file. Election officials are sifting through the list to determine how many of the 6,000 were improperly flagged.

Approximately 1,000 of them received a mail ballot without local races, but it’s too soon to know how many of those should have received a full ballot, state Elections Director Kori Lorick said Wednesday. The others did not request a mail ballot but could vote in person.

Hobbs has staked her campaign for governor largely on her staunch defense of the 2020 election in the face of criticism from former President Donald Trump and his allies. Her Republican rival, former television news anchor Kari Lake, has spread Trump’s unsupported claims of fraud two years ago and has called on Hobbs to step aside from overseeing the midterms while she’s on the ballot.

When people register to vote in Arizona or update their registration, an election system queries Motor Vehicle Division records to verify whether the person has proven their citizenship. Those who don’t have citizenship documentation on file are not eligible to vote in state elections and are registered as “federal only” voters.

Lorick said the driver’s license query failed to properly verify the citizenship for some people, leading them to be improperly registered as federal only voters.

Federal only voters have been a subject of political wrangling since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that Arizona cannot require documentary proof of citizenship for people to vote in national elections. The state responded by creating two classes of voters — those who can vote in all races and those who can vote only in federal elections.

Hobbs said in her statement that the problem affected less than a quarter of 1 percent of voters. She said the database problem has been corrected.

Anyone who got the wrong ballot will be contacted and given the correct ballot, Lorick said. If they vote the truncated ballot, it will be sequestered and the voter will get a chance to cast a full ballot before polls close on Election Day.

“Only one ballot per voter will ever be counted,” Lorick said.

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This story has been updated with new information from the Secretary of State’s Office indicating only about 1,000 of the 6,000 potentially affected voters received a mail ballot.

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