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Arizona shutting down online voter registration at spring deadline

The long-planned replacement of a computer system at Arizona's Motor Vehicle Division means that the state's online voter registration system will be shut down right before the deadline to sign up to cast ballots in spring elections.

The ServiceArizona.com system, which handles drivers license and vehicle registration as well as voter registration, will be unavailable this weekend, from Friday evening through sometime Tuesday.

The deadline to register for the May 19 election is a month prior: Monday, April 20.

The "shutdown is a total interruption to all services provided at MVD offices," third-party providers and ServiceArizona.com, Arizona Department of Transportation officials said.

"The replacement of an obsolete computer system will require a complete shutdown," ADOT said.

"Arizonans who want to register to vote or update their voter registration will need to use a paper form between April 17 and 21," Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said in a separate announcement.

"Because the online voter registration system uses MVD records to confirm the identity of the person registering to vote," the elected Democrat said, "voters will be unable to use ServiceArizona.com to register to vote during the outage."

From Hobbs:

For those attempting to register or update registration for a jurisdiction holding an election on May 19, the form must be submitted to the appropriate county recorder’s office by April 20. If the form is returned by mail it must be: 

Postmarked by the deadline and received by the county recorder and received by the county recorder by 7 p.m. on Election Day.
Or dated on or before the deadline and received by the county recorder no later than five days after the deadline.

A downloadable voter registration form is available on the Secretary of State’s website at http://go.azsos.gov/kg23.

ADOT officials, who fall under the purview of Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, did not address why the timing of the shutdown coincides with the voter registration deadline.

While there are no May elections taking place in Pima County, there are several around the state:

  • Douglas is holding a mayoral runoff election
  • Graham County is holding a clerk of Superior Court recall election
  • Fountain Hills is holding an election on three propositions
  • The town of Tusayan, near the Grand Canyon, is holding a proposition election

According to ADOT, "the introduction of this state-of-the-art computer system has been planned for nearly five years and is required because the current platform used by MVD has elements that are more than 35 years old and are no longer sustainable."

More from ADOT:

This interruption is mitigated somewhat by several factors. The first is that registration renewals occur at the beginning of the month or on the 15th. The dates for the shutdown fall between those periods, so customers don’t risk missing a renewal deadline.

Also, the COVID-19 health situation has resulted in a delay of the REAL ID deadline by a full year, so customers should delay getting the AZ Travel ID. In addition, Arizona driver licenses set to expire between March 1 and Sept. 1 have had those expiration dates automatically extended by six months.

These combined factors have significantly reduced the need for office visits.

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When it becomes operational, the new system will broaden the number and type of services available online any time. The AZ MVD Now application that has been available for several years through ServiceArizona.com will expand to approximately 30 services. It can be accessed at azmvdnow.gov or through ServiceArizona.

Every current Arizona MVD customer already has an AZ MVD Now account waiting to be activated. It’s a free, secure, personal account where customers can add funds to pay for various fees and services. Among the services available are registration renewal, replacing a driver license or identification card, ordering specialty plates, getting a three-day permit, managing insurance, doing title transfers and replacements, scheduling an appointment and much more.

In addition, the changes mean that MVD will now fulfill many services by mail. Documents such as titles, registrations and all license plates will no longer be available at MVD or Authorized Third Party locations but will be sent directly to customers through the mail.

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