FILE - Welcome to Arizona

(The Center Square) – Arizonans have two deadlines to do their civic duty converging Thursday.

With 99.9% of households recorded, Arizonans that have yet to make themselves counted in the decennial Census have until the early hours of Friday morning to call into a Census office and enumerate their household.

The deadline comes from the U.S. Supreme Court granting President Donald Trump’s request to bring counting to a halt, reversing a lower court deadline extending the count through Oct. 31. Under the new deadline, Census takers will record households until midnight in the Hawaiian timezone or 3 am Arizona time Friday. 

Native advocates warned that, even with a high total enumeration, places like Navajo Nation and other remote areas in the state would see undercounts. As of Wednesday, Navajo Nation’s self-response rate was 22.4%. In 2010, it was 29.4%. One hurdle that’s traditionally led to low response rates is many households lack addresses. The tribes joined the NAACP and others in the lawsuit to extend the count beyond September.

“I’m very disappointed in the Supreme Court’s failure to acknowledge the federal government’s responsibility to accurately count the Navajo people and many other tribal nations,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said. “It’s disheartening that the highest court of the land ignored the devastating impacts that COVID-19 has had on the Navajo Nation and the census count.”

Meanwhile, the deadline for voter registration ends Thursday as well. A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and the Republican National Committee to move the deadline back from Oct. 23, the date a lower court had extended the deadline to after advocacy groups Mi Familia Vota and the Arizona Coalition for Change sued. They claimed the COVID-19 pandemic had shortened their window to register new voters. 

A lawyer representing Hobbs told the three-judge panel that extending the deadline had suddenly created exceptional difficulties in simultaneously tabulating registered voters and distributing up-to-date voter rolls to precincts before polls opened.

The judges agreed to allow residents who registered after the Oct. 5 deadline to vote in next month’s election.

Staff Reporter

Cole Lauterbach reports on Illinois and Arizona government and statewide issues for The Center Square. He has produced radio shows for stations in Central Illinois and created award-winning programs for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.