Two Democratic senators today asked the U.S. Department of Justice to ensure that Hawaii and nine other states do not violate federal law with their mail-in voter registration deadlines for the November election.
U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer of New York and Patrick Leahy of Vermont said they were concerned that thousands of people could be disenfranchised under plans that would block applications as many as three days earlier than other states.
A department spokesman said officials would review the request as soon as it’s received.
The senators said deadlines in 10 states violate the National Voting Rights Act, which calls for mail-in voter registration applications to be accepted if they are postmarked 30 days before the election. That falls on a Sunday this year. The next day happens to be Columbus Day, when there will be no postal service.
Other states have adjusted their deadlines to account for the long holiday weekend, accepting applications postmarked by Tuesday, Oct. 11.
The 10 states cited in the senators’ letter are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah and Washington. Officials in Utah have said they already changed the deadline, while officials in Washington and Arkansas have said they also will accept applications postmarked on Oct. 11.
Officials in Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii and Rhode Island have said the mail-in deadline would not be changed.
“We’re confident that we’re following the law that the Legislature wrote, and that’s not disenfranchising anyone,” said Matt Roberts, spokesman for Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan.
Last week, the senators sent a similar letter to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.