Feds Sue Over New Arizona Citizenship Proof Legislation for Voting

By BOB CHRISTIE, Related Press

PHOENIX (AP) — The U.S. Division of Justice on Tuesday sued Arizona over a brand new legislation requiring individuals who use a federal kind to register to vote to offer extra proof of citizenship in the event that they need to vote for president or utilizing the state’s widespread vote-by-mail system.

The legislation signed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey on March 30 is in direct battle with a 1993 federal voter registration legislation and in addition violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964, in response to the Justice Division. The legislation provides necessities for the federal kind straight rejected by the U.S. Supreme Courtroom in a 2013 Arizona case.

The Republican-controlled Legislature was nicely conscious of the federal legislation and the Supreme Courtroom determination written by the late conservative icon, Justice Antonin Scalia. However they went forward anyway, arguing the brand new legislation would increase election safety.

Assistant Legal professional Common Kristen Clarke of the division’s civil rights division known as the brand new legislation that goes into impact in January “a textbook violation of the Nationwide Voter Registration Act.”

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She mentioned the Nationwide Voter Registration Act has helped remove necessities that make it exhausting to register to vote.

“Arizona has handed a legislation that turns the clock again on progress by imposing illegal and pointless necessities that may block eligible voters from the registration rolls for sure federal elections,” Clarke mentioned in an announcement.

The legislation violates the Civil Proper Act by requiring election officers to reject registration kinds in the event that they comprise a mistake or omit info that isn’t wanted to find out somebody’s proper to vote, she mentioned.

Ducey mentioned in a March 30 signing letter that the legislation is designed to deal with a rising variety of voters who registered utilizing the federal kind who didn’t have to offer proof that they’re residents. The state’s voters added the citizenship proof requirement in 2004 once they enacted Proposition 200, but it surely doesn’t apply to the federal kind.

The federal kind requires an individual to swear they’re a citizen, however there isn’t a proof requirement. Those that register utilizing the shape and don’t reply to election officers’ request for citizenship proof are solely allowed to vote in federal elections. In 2020, simply over 11,600 folks have been federal-only voters, however the quantity has since risen. For the reason that Supreme Courtroom determination, Arizona has allowed these utilizing the shape who haven’t supplied citizenship proof to vote solely in federal elections.

Ducey spokesman C.J. Karamargin declined to remark, saying the administration would not touch upon litigation. Republican Legal professional Common Mark Brnovich, who’s working for U.S. Senate, advised the Justice Division in a July 1 letter that he would defend the legislation to the fullest.

The invoice would prohibit federal-only voters from voting by mail or voting for president. It will require state election officers to cross examine registration info with varied authorities databases to attempt to show their citizenship, and report anybody they can not discover to prosecutors.

The invoice additionally requires folks to incorporate proof of their handle with new voter registrations. Election officers say that’s sophisticated and pointless as a result of addresses are verified on the time of voting, and voting rights advocates say it’s going to make registering voters tougher.

The Legislature’s personal legal professionals advised lawmakers that a lot of the measure was unconstitutional, straight contradicts the 2013 Supreme Courtroom determination and is prone to be thrown out in court docket. It handed with help from solely majority Republicans.

Voting rights advocates fear the invoice is an try to get again in entrance of the now extra conservative Supreme Courtroom.

“Election integrity means counting each lawful vote and prohibiting any try to illegally solid a vote,” Ducey mentioned in a letter explaining his determination to signal the invoice.

He known as the invoice “a balanced method that honors Arizona’s historical past of creating voting accessible with out sacrificing safety in our elections.”

Rep. Jake Hoffman developed the invoice together with the conservative Heritage Basis, and mentioned the measure is about eliminating alternatives for fraud, although circumstances of noncitizens voting are extraordinarily uncommon.

Hoffman and different supporters say it impacts solely the roughly 31,500 voters who haven’t proven proof of citizenship. Voting advocates say it is imprecise and will go a lot farther, affecting lots of of hundreds of people that have not just lately up to date their voter registration or driver’s license.

The Justice Division lawsuit is the third to be filed difficult the legislation because it was handed. Voting rights teams filed the primary two challenges, which have been merged into one case.

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