Republicans sue to purge at least 500,000 people from Arizona’s voter rolls

Voters wait in line at a Mesa polling location on Nov. 8, 2022. (Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy / Arizona Mirror)

The leaders of the Arizona Republican Party and a conservative dark money group have filed a lawsuit alleging the state has not kept an accurate count of registered voters and asking a court to force elections officials to purge 500,000 Arizonans from the voter rolls.

The federal lawsuit claims that the state’s list of registered voters contains up to 1.27 million voters who have either died or moved out of state, violating the National Voter Registration Act.

Four counties in Arizona have more registered voters than total voting-age citizens, the group’s suit says — Apache, La Paz, Navajo and Santa Cruz. The suit uses 2022 voter registration figures and data  from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The suit was filed by Scot Mussi, president of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club; Arizona GOP chair Gina Swoboda; and Steve Gaynor, who unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination for Arizona secretary of state in 2018.

“Election integrity is a serious issue in our nation,” said Mussi in a written statement announcing the lawsuit. “Ensuring that Arizonans can have faith in the integrity of our election system and representative government starts with clean voter rolls that leave no doubts about who is able to cast a ballot.

In the suit, Mussi and the others claim that Secretary of State Adrian Fontes has failed to develop a maintenance program to remove ineligible voters, and that he has admitted to that failure, describing the program as “in development.”

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that advocates for conservative policies and spends to help Republican candidates win election, has filed multiple other lawsuits against Fontes. One from October 2023 attempted to block the use of ballot boxes in the state, while another filed in February sought to defend ballot box monitoring.

Arizona Secretary of State spokesperson JP Martin said that the state’s voter registration monitoring is “up to date and compliant with federal and state laws.”

Martin said that Fontes’ office would not comment on an ongoing legal case, but voters have no reason for concern and that the lawsuit is based on speculation rather than evidence.

A trial date for the suit has not been set.

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