To hear Adrian Fontes tell it, the hopes of thousands of would-be voters are trapped in dust-covered boxes at the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office. The boxes are filled with forms reflecting failed attempts to register to vote. Fontes, the new Maricopa County recorder, says those failures are the result of a strict interpretation of registration rules, and he intends to do something about it. Since 2004, Arizonans attempting to register to vote without showing proof of citizenship are put in a kind of voter purgatory, denied the right to vote as their county sends them reminders to confirm their citizenship.
But Fontes, a Democrat who in November defeated Helen Purcell, a Republican incumbent of nearly three decades, believes there are valid voters in those boxes, especially when the voter rolls are run against information held by the state Transportation Department Motor Vehicle Division, which has been requiring proof of citizenship for driver’s licenses for more than a decade.
If Fontes finds proof of citizenship at the Motor Vehicle Division, he said, he will register those voters.
“Where voters are treated differently with the government on one hand assisting voters and on the other hand preventing them from voting, that violates substantive due process, and there is no rational basis for it,” Fontes said.