United States District Court, D. Arizona
DOMINIC W. LANZA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is a motion to dismiss Plaintiff David
Isabel's first amended complaint (“FAC”).
(Doc. 61.) The motion was filed by Defendant Michele Reagan
and joined by Defendants Maricopa County and Maricopa County
Recorder Adrian Fontes. For the following reasons, the motion
will be granted and this action will be terminated.
October 9, 2018, Isabel filed the initial complaint in this
case. (Doc. 1.) It alleged that Arizona's Secretary of
State in 2016, Michele Reagan (“the Secretary”),
established Monday, October 10, 2016 as the voter
registration deadline for the 2016 general election
(“the 2016 Election”). (Id. ¶ 19.)
October 10 was also Columbus Day, a state and federal
holiday, and therefore certain methods of registration
weren't available on that day. (Id. ¶¶
registered to vote on October 11, 2016. (Id. ¶
24.) Because this was one day after the voter registration
deadline that had been set by the Secretary, Isabel was only
permitted to cast a provisional ballot during the 2016
Election. (Id. ¶ 35.) Officials in the Maricopa
County Recorder's Office ultimately determined that
Isabel wasn't an eligible voter, due to his failure to
register by the October 10 deadline, and thus didn't
count his vote. (Id. ¶¶ 36-38.)
complaint, which Isabel filed on behalf of a class of
similarly-situated individuals, Isabel alleged that
Defendants violated two federal statutes-(1) the National
Voter Registration Act of 1993 (“NVRA”), 52
U.S.C. § 20501 et seq., and (2) the Help
America Vote Act of 2002 (“HAVA”), 52 U.S.C.
§ 21081 et seq.-as well as Article I, Section 2
of the United States Constitution (“the Qualifications
Clause”). (Id. ¶¶ 53-71.) All three
claims were asserted via 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Id.
at 11-15.) As a remedy, Isabel sought “compensatory and
punitive damages, ” among other things. (Id.
7, 2019, the Court dismissed all three claims without
prejudice. (Doc. 54.) First, the Court dismissed the
NVRA claim because the NVRA contains its own remedial scheme,
which (unlike § 1983) authorizes only declaratory and
injunctive relief, and Congress intended those limited
remedies to be exclusive. (Id. at 9-14.) Second, the
Court dismissed the HAVA claim because that statute only
creates a federal right to cast a provisional ballot and to
have the ballot be counted “if the appropriate election
official ‘determines' that the individual is
eligible”-it doesn't go further and create a
federal right to challenge the propriety of state-law
eligibility determinations. (Id. at 15-18.) Third,
the Court dismissed the Qualifications Clause claim because
that provision prohibits states from establishing different
qualifications for voting for state and federal offices (and
Isabel's ballot was treated equally-that is,
disregarded-for all of the contested races in the 2016
Election) and because Isabel hadn't, in any event,
alleged facts showing that the registration deadline had
disenfranchised him. (Id. at 18-22.)
27, 2019, Isabel filed the FAC. (Doc. 60.) The FAC does not
contain any new factual allegations and does not assert any
alternative theories concerning Count I of the original
complaint (the NVRA-based § 1983 claim), but it does
seek to refine Count II (the HAVA-based § 1983 claim)
and Count III (the constitutionally-based § 1983
claim).Specifically, with respect to Count II, the
FAC alleges that section 304 of the “HAVA expressly
precludes [voter registration] determinations based on
‘State requirements [that are] inconsistent with the
[NVRA].'” (Doc. 60 ¶ 62.) The FAC thus asserts
that, because the October 10 voter registration deadline was
inconsistent with the NVRA, Defendants necessarily also
violated the HAVA. (Id. ¶¶ 63, 64.) With
respect to Count III, the FAC no longer relies solely on the
Qualifications Clause and instead broadly invokes the
Constitution as providing the foundation for the claim.
(Id. ¶¶ 69-73.)
5, 2019, the Secretary moved to dismiss the FAC. (Doc. 61.)
On July 8, 2019, the County Defendants joined this motion.
September 30, 2019, the Court issued a tentative ruling and
authorized the parties to submit supplemental briefing. (Doc.
October 24, 2019, after the parties submitted their
supplemental briefs (Docs. 73, 75, 76), the Court held oral
argument. (Doc. 78.)
survive a motion to dismiss, a party must allege
‘sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”
In re Fitness Holdings Int'l, Inc., 714 F.3d
1141, 1144 (9th Cir. 2013) (quoting Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). “A claim has
facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).
“[A]ll well-pleaded allegations of material fact in the
complaint are accepted as true and are construed in the light
most favorable to the non-moving party.” Id.
at 1144-45 (citation omitted). However, the court need not
accept legal conclusions couched as factual allegations.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679-80. The court also may
dismiss due to “a lack of a cognizable legal
theory.” Mollett v. Netflix, Inc., 795 F.3d
1062, 1065 (9th Cir. 2015) (citation omitted).
attempts to resuscitate his HAVA-based claim by arguing that
(1) section 304 of that statute (which is codified at 52
U.S.C. § 21084) prohibits a state from making
voter-eligibility determinations that are inconsistent with
the NVRA, and (2) Defendants committed an NVRA violation
argument is unavailing. The starting point for the analysis
is, of course, the statutory text. Section 304 of the HAVA,
which is entitled “Minimum requirements, ”
provides as follows:
The requirements established by this subchapter are minimum
requirements and nothing in this subchapter shall be
construed to prevent a State from establishing election
technology and administration requirements that are more
strict than the requirements established under this
subchapter so long as such State requirements are not
inconsistent with the Federal requirements under ...