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Arizona residents try to vote after Supreme Court invalidates their residency

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Lowell Loewen lives in Arizona, the state where he has lived the past four years. But with the possibility of President Donald Trump winning his home state on Nov. 6, he is now worried that his efforts to vote in elections will be unduly hindered by a growing controversy in an otherwise sleepy, rural town near Phoenix.

No longer able to vote because of an Arizona Supreme Court ruling, Loewen received the documents for the ballot he requested but did not place his vote for Senate on Election Day. His mail order ballot had been sent to a addresses in Flagstaff, Arizona’s other metropolitan area.

“I have to stay around to make sure I’m not being meddled with,” he said, in reference to his neighbors.

The decision, however, has not stopped his wife from voting, as she feared she might have a problem getting around.

In a unanimous ruling last month, the court rejected the argument that Loewen’s residency had disqualified him from voting under a residency requirement that was intended to be less restrictive than the requirements of those who vote in other states. Arizona law does not even spell out whether residents must live in the state for a year before submitting an application for a mail-in ballot.

In a two-sentence order, the Supreme Court rejected the interpretation offered by Flagstaff, Arizona, a municipality of fewer than 20,000 residents about 65 miles southwest of Phoenix. Flagstaff argued that Loewen had unlawfully failed to attend the town’s annual Independence Day parade last month because he had not obtained a voter-registration card at the post office. That would have required him to move to the area to get the state driver’s license his application required, Flagstaff attorneys argued.

Arizona law requires residents to obtain an identification card if they meet the requirements of the state. Citizens who do not have an ID may visit a post office and request one at no cost. Loewen could have obtained a voter-registration card in Flagstaff in about two weeks, according to his wife, Charity. But she said they were unable to find anyone with the state’s identification requirements at their home. She initially had purchased an Arizona driver’s license to use as identification at a polling station, she said, but decided not to carry it in light of the controversy.

The Flagstaff Superior Court denied Loewen’s request for a preliminary injunction against the procedures under which he can vote in elections. The Superior Court said his claims for undue burden should be heard after the November election.

“Arizona law does not define the term ‘jurisdiction’ in the context of how a person’s residence is addressed,” the Superior Court ruling said.

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