Biden Administration Sues Arizona Over Law Requiring Voters Prove They’re US Citizens

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President Joe Biden’s administration on July 5 sued Arizona over a law that requires voters to prove they’re U.S. citizens.

The law, House Bill 2492, violates two federal statutes, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a 17-page complaint filed in federal court in Phoenix.

One of those statutes requires states to accept a federal form to register voters, and the form does not require voters to prove their citizenship, the complaint says.

“As long as an individual completes the Federal Form and meets all its requirements, and is otherwise eligible to vote, states must register that individual to vote in all federal elections in the state, including presidential elections,” it says.

The Law

The Arizona law (pdf) requires applicants to provide “satisfactory evidence of citizenship.”

Examples of such evidence include a copy of a birth certificate, a copy of a passport, and a copy of naturalization documents.

County recorders, under the law, are ordered to reject applicants who do not satisfy the requirement.

State lawmakers passed the law in March, and Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, signed the bill into law that month.

“Election integrity means counting every lawful vote and prohibiting any attempt to illegally cast a vote,” Ducey said in a letter outlining why he supported the bill.

State Rep. Jake Hoffman, a Republican who sponsored the bill, said the signing was “a giant step toward ensuring elections are easy, convenient, and secure in our state.”

Opposition

Portions of the law violate the National Voter Registration Act and the Civil Rights Act, DOJ lawyers allege.

The former bars state officials from requiring citizenship proof beyond a voter’s attestation, under penalty of perjury, on the form used to register applicants to vote in federal elections, the new suit states.

The act “specifically precludes any state requirement that an applicant seeking to register to vote using a Federal Form also submit [proof of citizenship],” the lawyers wrote.

The law also violates the part of the Civil Rights Act that bars officials from rejecting voter applicants “because of an error or omission on any record or paper relating to any application, registration, or other act requisite to voting, if such error or omission is not material in determining whether such individual is qualified under State law to vote in such election,” the suit asserts.

Relief should be entered in declarations that parts of the Arizona law violate federal law, the lawyers told the court. Additionally, Arizona officials should be blocked from enforcing the sections requiring proof of citizenship.

Epoch Times Photo
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (L) discusses the problem of human trafficking in Arizona at a press conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., on June 22. Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega (C) and Scottsdale Police Chief John Walther (R) spoke about the city’s efforts to combat the problem through a partnership with the Arizona Anti-Trafficking Network and Homeland Security Investigations. (Allan Stein/The Epoch Times)

Brnovich Knew

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican running for U.S. Senate, said Friday that the DOJ planned to file the suit, and that he would fight the legal action.

Brnovich said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke wrote to him recently, alerting him to the suit.

“Please be assured that I will defend this law to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary,” he wrote, before questioning why the administration “would use its resources to challenge a common sense law in Arizona designed to guard against non-citizen voting, while the Biden Administration is simultaneously opening our borders to encourage a flood of illegal immigration.”

Under Biden, the United States has recorded record levels of apprehensions of illegal immigrants at the U.S.–Mexico border, with no signs of the crisis abating.

“Is the federal government attempting to undermine our sovereignty and destabilize our election infrastructure?” Brnovich asked Clarke. “I hope that is not your intention. I strongly urge you to reconsider your pursuit of this misguided suit and to instead recognize Arizona’s constitutional authority to conduct lawful and secure elections.”

After the suit was filed, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) said it was frivolous. “Arizona law requires one to be a citizen to vote. As does federal law,” he wrote on Twitter. “Just like showing ID to buy alcohol or rent a hotel room, none of which are ‘discriminatory’ showing your ID to vote is easy, common and necessary.”

But Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) was among other lawmakers speaking out in support of the DOJ’s filing.

“It’s wrong to force Arizonans to jump through hoops to vote, and AZ Republicans are betting on the radical right-wing Supreme Court to uphold these new laws,” he said on social media. “Glad to see @TheJusticeDept file suit to protect the rights of Arizona voters.”

Zachary Stieber

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Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.