Feds likely to sue Arizona over new election law

Rep. Jake Hoffman, R-Queen Creek, who authored the legislation, contends that 2013 ruling applies only to congressional races. And that, he said, means the state is free to impose its citizenship requirements for the presidential race.

By Howard Fischer || Capitol Media Services  

The Biden administration is planning to sue Arizona over a new state law that requires proof of citizenship to vote for president.

Kristen Clarke, the assistant attorney general of the civil rights division of the Department of Justice, said she has authorized going to court over what she contends is a violation of the 1964 Voting Rights Act. The only thing that would stop that, Clarke said in a letter to Attorney General Mark Brnovich, is if the state is willing to settle the issue, presumably by an agreement not to enforce the law.

Brnovich responded Friday telling her, in essence, he will see her in court.

And he told Capitol Media Services this is about more than simply protecting the state’s right to ensure that only citizens vote in elections. Brnovich said there is reason to believe all this is part of some larger scheme by some, including “neo-Marxists” to allow people not in this country to influence elections.

The legal issues however, may not be as clear as Brnovich contends, with two conflicting laws.

The first is the 2004 requirement approved by Arizona citizens for proof of citizenship to register to vote. That applies to state voter-registration forms.

Against that is the National Voter Registration Act which allows people to register to vote using a federal form. And that form requires registrants to only avow, under penalty of perjury, that they are citizens.

State officials initially refused to accept federal forms without citizenship proof.

In 2013, however, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that Arizona is free to require citizenship proof on its own forms. But the justices said the state cannot refuse to accept the federal form, though it can restrict those who use those forms and do not also provide proof of citizenship to voting only on federal races, meaning for president and members of Congress.

That ruling went pretty much unchallenged until the 2020 election when Joe Biden outpolled Donald Trump in Arizona by 10,457 votes. That led to claims by those unhappy with the outcome that the results were influenced by the approximately 12,000 people who used that federal form.

There is, however, no proof of that – or even that everyone who used the federal form two years ago was not a citizen but simply chose the simpler registration method.

That resulted in HB 2492, signed March 30 by Gov. Doug Ducey, which says that votes for president will be counted only from people who provide proof of citizenship or the state is otherwise able to verify their citizenship.

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