Arizona plans to require citizenship proof for state elections

PHOENIX Mon Oct 7, 2013 11:19pm EDT

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PHOENIX (Reuters) - Arizona, long at odds with Washington over immigration policy, plans to require voters to show proof of citizenship to vote in state polls, even after it lost a high court battle to demand such documentation for federal elections.

The U.S. Supreme Court voted 7-2 in June to strike down a voter-registration law designed to stop illegal immigrants from casting ballots in the state, which borders Mexico and has been at the heart of the U.S. national battle over immigration.

The law had required would-be voters to show proof of citizenship both when registering to vote and when casting a ballot, but the court ruled that the measure was trumped by federal law.

On Monday, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne spelled out the new policy in an opinion issued in response to a request from Secretary of State Ken Bennett, seeking clarification in light of the top court's ruling.

"Those who registered to vote using the federal form, which does not require evidence of citizenship, should not vote in state elections or sign petitions," Horne, a Republican, concluded in the 16-page opinion.

But he said the rules outlined in the Arizona voter registration measure, Proposition 200, were still valid for local elections.

"Persons seeking to register to vote must comply with Proposition 200's evidence of citizenship requirement in order to become ... eligible to vote in state and local elections and to sign candidates, initiative, referendum or recall petitions," he added.

Arizona's Republican leadership has taken a tough stance on illegal immigration. In 2010, Governor Jan Brewer signed a state law requiring police to question about their immigration status people that they stop and suspect of being in the country illegally.

Backers of Proposition 200, passed by voters in 2004, said the law was needed to fight voter fraud, although opponents said it unfairly deterred Latinos and Native Americans from registering to vote, as they sometimes struggled to come up with the required citizenship proofs.

State Democrats, who countered that Republicans who championed the measures aimed to make it harder for minority voters who tend to vote Democratic to cast ballots, said Horne's opinion tested "absurdity and vindictiveness."

"By recommending a two-track voting system, Horne will be creating a group of second-class voters in Arizona," DJ Quinlan, the executive director of the Arizona Democratic Party, said in a statement.

"This will also create another confusing layer of bureaucracy to our voting system and potentially cost Arizona taxpayers millions of dollars."

The only federal offices that will appear on Arizona ballots next year will be seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in the midterm congressional elections.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Walsh)

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Comments (18)
OneOfTheSheep wrote:
Good for Arizona. One of the few states with both brain and spine.

Oct 08, 2013 2:14am EDT  --  Report as abuse
mikefromaz wrote:
If Arizona spent one half as much energy and expense educating children as they do with this fruitless hissy-fit war with the United States, we might eventually rise above the laughing stock status of our state. Our so called “leaders” are nothing more than self absorbed amateurs with a red-neck, ill bred and ill advised attitude. They are nothing less than an embarrassment to themselves and the state of Arizona.

Oct 08, 2013 2:53am EDT  --  Report as abuse
SeniorMoment wrote:
Arizona is acting like it couldn’t care less what federal judges say and rule, because the one man (, woman or either) one vote rule ultimately can be extended to all state elections as well as federal ones. The more people the state excludes from voting the less legitimacy the state government has and the farther it gets from every citizen having a voice in government, which is what the Revolutionary War was all about. The colonies did not elect any members of the British Parliament.

Proving citizenship is not always easy. My mother-in-law was born in a mining camp that is now a ghost town. The record of her birth burned down with the county courthouse before her state starting keeping duplicate records of birth for counties, and she had a hell of a time getting a U. S. Passport until finally her elementary school grade school attendance records and her baptismal certificate were accepted with testimony from others. The Census records might also have been referred to as proof, because her parents did cooperate in being counted with family. My mother-in-law didn’t even know it would be a problem until she applied for a passport to visit the nation where her parents were born. Legal immigrants will have no trouble proving citizenship by presenting the Naturalization document, which they would have earned primarily as adults.

In the absence of some evidence of actual fraudulent voting, Arizona wasted and is wasting significant money it most certainly will not recover in selling people a certified copy of their birth certificate. The Republican Party, which has aggressively worked to discourage voting, since Lee Attwater came up with that as a strategy to win elections. It is not free to prove citizenship and to have it checked by election judges and a significant number of those in Arizona were not born there, but have instead gone there for a job or to retire.

The state I was born in also never provided a certificate of birth to parents when a child’s birth is recorded, and the hospital certificate of birth would not be acceptable by itself. The ones most likely to be citizens and frozen out of elections for an inability to meet Arizona’s standard of proof, are the elderly.

Oct 08, 2013 3:11am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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