Arizona’s New Citizenship Law is on the Right Track but Could Face Legal Challenges

USA Independence day, 4 July. Close up Woman hand holding United States of America flag on the blue sky background.

A recently enacted law in Arizona requires voters to show proof of U.S. citizenship at registration or within 30 days of registering to vote.

As reported by the AZ Mirror, “House Bill 2492, passed by Republican lawmakers in both chambers on a party-line vote, requires Arizona election officials to verify the citizenship status of everyone who registers to vote using the federal voter registration form.”

The bill also requires any newly registered voter to provide proof of his/her address. It also imposes duties on county recorders and election officials:

“County recorders would also be required to check voter rolls against citizenship databases and purge anyone who isn’t listed as an eligible citizen. Recorders who don’t comply could face felony charges. Election officials would also face felony charges for failing to reject voter registrations that don’t include proof of citizenship.”

Arguments Supporting and Opposing the Bill

Supporters of the law argue that it is necessary to protect voters and prevent their votes from being diluted. Opponents contend that the new law will disenfranchise many voters who will have to present proof of citizenship to keep their registrations active or re-register under certain circumstances.

Currently, people in Arizona who only vote in federal elections are not required to provide such documentation. Under the new law, federal-only voters (voters who can vote only for president, U.S. House, and U.S. Senate) would also have to show proof of citizenship. Additional information regarding the bill can be found here

According to state Rep. Jake Hoffman, “Arizonans will not have to re-register to vote. It will be business as usual for 99.9% of Arizona voters.” Hoffman also noted that, of the small percentage of affected voters, those who previously registered with some proof of citizenship on file were grandfathered in.

Potential Legal Challenges

The law will undoubtedly face legal challenges. The most compelling of such challenges will likely rely on the 2013 Supreme Court case of Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Ariz., Inc.

There, the court held that the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which requires States to “accept and use” a uniform federal form to register voters for federal elections, preempted an Arizona law known as Proposition 200 that included an “evidence-of-citizenship” requirement.

The court explained that the federal form only required attestation of citizenship under penalty of perjury, not proof or evidence of citizenship. It added that Arizona’s law requiring such verification was preempted by the NVRA in accordance with the Elections Clause.

The court further noted that, while Arizona could not unilaterally decide to include the proof of citizenship requirement, it could ask the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) to include such a requirement among the federal form’s state-specific instructions or seek judicial review of the EAC’s decision under the Administrative Procedure Act.

Interestingly, the court also made the following observation:

“We note, however, that while the NVRA forbids States to demand that an applicant submit additional information beyond that required by the Federal Form, it does not preclude States from ‘deny[ing] registration based on information in their possession establishing the applicant’s ineligibility.'”

The right to vote is sacred and should be cherished. In Arizona (and elsewhere), citizens should feel secure that their votes are being counted, not weakened by those who should not be voting. The citizenship requirement, which is by no means difficult or taxing, is yet another easy method that can help protect the integrity of the nation’s elections. As Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey recently stated, the bill is “a balanced approach that honors Arizona’s history of making voting accessible without sacrificing security in our elections.”

Time will tell if it can withstand legal scrutiny.

Mr. Hakim is an attorney and columnist. His articles have been published in The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, American Thinker, and other online publications. He is also a regular guest on OANN’s Tipping Point, and has appeared on Newsmax, The Dave Weinbaum Show, and Real America’s Voice. 

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