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Democratic National Committee, DSCC v. Arizona Secretary of States Office

United States District Court, D. Arizona

March 3, 2017

Democratic National Committee, DSCC, and Arizona Democratic Party, Plaintiffs,
v.
Arizona Secretary of State's Office, Michele Reagan, and Mark Brnovich, Defendants.

          ORDER

          Douglas L. Rayes United States District Judge.

         Plaintiffs-the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and the Arizona Democratic Party-allege that two aspects of Arizona's election regime violate § 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and the First, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. First, Plaintiffs challenge Arizona's prohibition on counting out-of-precinct (OOP) provisional ballots, which derives from the collective effect of A.R.S. §§ 16-122, -135, -584, and related rules prescribed by the Arizona Secretary of State in the Election Procedures Manual. Second, Plaintiffs challenge H.B. 2023, codified at A.R.S. § 16-1005(H)-(I), which makes it a felony for third parties to collect early ballots from voters unless the collector falls into a statutorily enumerated exception. Plaintiffs seek a declaration that the challenged election rules are unlawful, and an order enjoining the Arizona Secretary of State's Office, Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan, and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (State Defendants) from:

a. Implementing, enforcing, or giving any effect to A.R.S. § 16-122, § 16-135, or § 16-584 to the extent that they require Defendants to reject provisional ballots in their entirety solely because they were cast in the wrong precinct;
b. Requiring Defendants to count OOP ballots for races for which the voter was otherwise eligible to cast a vote;
c. Implementing, enforcing, or giving any effect to H.B. 2023.

(Doc. 233 at 41-42.)

         The State Defendants have moved to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(7) and 19. (Doc. 245.) They contend that Plaintiffs have failed to name necessary and indispensable parties to this action, and that they have named unnecessary defendants for each of their claims. The motion is fully briefed and neither party requested oral argument. For the following reasons, the Court finds that the absent parties identified by the State Defendants are not necessary or indispensable, and therefore denies that portion of the motion to dismiss. By stipulation of the parties, however, the Court grants the State Defendants' request to dismiss the Secretary of State's Office because its presence is unnecessary.

         I. Legal Standards

         Rule 19 governs the circumstances in which an absent party must be joined to an action:

(a) Persons Required to Be Joined if Feasible.
(1) Required Party. A person who is subject to service of process and whose joinder will not deprive the court of subject-matter jurisdiction must be joined as a party if:
(A) in that person's absence, the court cannot accord complete relief among existing parties; or
(B) that person claims an interest relating to the subject of the action and is so situated that disposing of the action in the person's absence may:
(i) as a practical matter impair or impede the person's ability to protect the interest; or
(ii) leave an existing party subject to a substantial risk of incurring double, multiple, or otherwise inconsistent obligations because of the interest.
(2) Joinder by Court Order. If a person has not been joined as required, the court must order that the person be made a party. A person who refuses to join as a plaintiff may be made either a defendant ...

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