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Voter registration extension added thousands of new voters to rolls

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TUCSON (KVOA) - Six days later and it’s still too close to call here in the desert.

President-Elect Joe Biden holds a narrow lead over President Donald Trump as the final batches of ballots start to get counted.

Last month, Arizona’s voter registration deadline was extended 10 days to Oct. 15.

The advocacy group Mi Familia Vota argued the pandemic made registering Arizonans very difficult.

“We know that Latinos and communities of color have been hit the hardest when it comes down to Covid,” state director, Eduardo Sainz said. “We had about 35,000 new voters that registered in those 10 days and we knew those voters were ready to participate.”

“It’s a bogus excuse,” Pima GOP Chair David Eppihimer said Monday. “Bogus that the pandemic affected all voters not just Latino voters. There were plenty of ways to register to vote, the easiest was online.”

Eppihimer argues the voter registrations in this period should stand but these new voters should not have been allowed to vote in this election.

“It was a move that the recorders in this state just did as a knee jerk reflex and went ahead and issued them ballots,” he said. “The ruling was only on the registration deadline. It didn’t say you could issue them ballots.”

Organizers who pushed for this say the extension was instrumental in driving up turnout and ultimately providing Biden with his current cushion in Arizona of more than 15,000 votes.

“When we thought October 5th was the deadline, that day we still had so many people coming to us to register to vote,” Vianey De Anda, with Progress Arizona said. “Some people didn’t know that was the last day to register. So, these are people that made it on there, they were able to vote and otherwise, it would have not happened.”

“If you look at right now the difference between Trump and Biden, we’re looking at a 20,000 to 15,000 vote difference meaning that those 35,000 voters that registered on this extension are crucial,” Sainz said.

Eppihimer believes in Pima County both parties used the 10-day extension to register new voters at a nearly even clip.

“It’s premature at this point to say that it was instrumental,” Eppihimer said. “I think we’ll know that when the final numbers come out.”

For the latest election numbers, click here.

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Eric Fink

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