Attorneys for four Arizona groups involved with voter registration are trying to get a federal judge to kill a bid by Secretary of State Ken Bennett to require proof of citizenship from all who register to vote. Nina Perales of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund said the U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that Arizona cannot enforce its documentation requirement on those who use a special registration form crafted by the federal Election Assistance Commission. “The interest that these Arizona organizations have is in protecting their victory that they just won,’ Perales said. She said Bennett’s lawsuit “is essentially trying to make an end-run around the U.S. Supreme Court decision.’ But Bennett said all he is doing is following a roadmap the high court provided when it ruled against Arizona in June.
He noted the justices said Arizona is free to ask the Election Assistance Commission to revamp its registration form to include a proof-of-citizenship requirement when individuals seek to vote in Arizona. More to the point, the justices said if the EAC refuses — which is what its executive director did — Arizona is free to sue and, if necessary, bring the case back before them.
Bennett said that’s exactly what he is trying to do.
The fight surrounds a 2004 voter-approved measure that requires proof of citizenship to register and identification at the polls. Courts sided with the state on the ID requirement.
But the Supreme Court ruled in June that Congress specifically empowered the commission to design a national voter registration form. It does not require documentation to prove citizenship but instead only that those registering swear, under penalty of perjury, that they are eligible to vote.