By Corinne Murdock |
The House Government and Elections Committee passed a bill prohibiting illegal immigrants from voting, HB2492, on Wednesday. The bill would require those registering to vote to prove their residential address, date and place of birth, and affirmation that they are a citizen using a U.S. Election Assistance Commission form.
If an applicant fails to offer satisfactory proof of citizenship, then the county must attempt to verify the applicant’s citizenship status within 10 days using, at minimum, information from the Department of Transportation (ADOT), Social Security Administration (SSA), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program, National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems Electronic Verification of Vital Events, and any other databases that the elections official has access to within the state, city, town, county, or federal government.
Election officials that refuse to reject a registration form would be subject to a class six felony. If officials find proof that the applicant isn’t an American citizen, then they must notify the applicant of their rejection and refer the case to both the county attorney and attorney general for further investigation. However, if an election official can’t find any citizenship information whatsoever, then they will only notify the applicant of their rejection and offer them 30 days to respond with evidence of citizenship.
The bill would impact federal-only voters — those who made a substantial impact in the 2020 election — because applicants without satisfactory citizenship proof wouldn’t be qualified to vote in federal elections. Exemptions would be carved out for those under the Uniformed And Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), such as military members.
Furthermore, the bill requires that county officials make records of all their efforts to verify an applicant’s citizenship status. They must also present a list of all individuals who registered to vote and haven’t provided satisfactory evidence of citizenship by Halloween of this year. At that point, the attorney general would have until the end of next March to determine each applicant’s citizenship status and submit a report to the secretary of state, senate president, and house speaker.
The legislation sponsor, State Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek), explained that the number of individuals who hadn’t shown Documentary Proof of Citizenship (DPOC) went from 1,700 in 2018 to over 11,000 in 2020.
Hoffman worked with the Arizona Free Enterprise Club to draft the bill, whose deputy director, Greg Blackie, offered testimony to the committee recounting Arizonans’ history of supporting citizenship requirements for voting, citing the state’s approval of Prop 200 in 2004: the Arizona voter-approved initiative that made citizenship a qualification to register to vote.
Both the federal and state government worked to undermine Prop 200. Although the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) requires states to use its federal form for voter registration, Blackie explained that the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) must consult with each state to include tailored instructions on that state’s voter qualifications; however, the EAC hasn’t included Arizona’s requirement of proof of citizenship. In 2013, the Supreme Court overturned Prop 200, ruling that the NVRA preempted Arizona’s proof of citizenship requirement. In 2018, Arizona’s secretary of state and the Maricopa County recorder agreed to a consent decree ignoring Prop 200.
“The result has been the complete proliferation of the federal-only voters list,” stated Blackie. “This bill really is necessary to safeguard our voter rolls, ensuring only qualified applicants are properly registered and voting in our elections, restoring confidence and ensuring in Arizona it’s easy to vote, hard to cheat.”
In announcing her vote against the bill, State Representative Sarah Ligouri (D-Phoenix) argued Arizona’s voter registration processes and ID processes are “completely secure.” Liguori said that Arizona should strike down this bill, as Kansas and Alabama did for similar bills.
“I think this legislation is unnecessary and impunitive to newly-registered and new citizen voters,” said Liguori.
The bill passed 7-6 on party lines.