Arizona is renewing its bid to let election officials here demand proof of citizenship from everyone registering to vote, paving the way for yet another lawsuit. In a letter to the acting executive director of the Election Assistance Commission, state Attorney General Tom Horne demanded that she allow Arizona to require that those registering to vote using a commission-designed form first show they are citizens. Horne told Alice Miller he expects action by Aug. 19 or he will sue. But Nina Perales, an attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said Horne should not expect approval. She said the commission staff rejected an identical request in 2005, a decision left intact by a 2-2 vote of the panel itself. And Perales insisted nothing has changed since then. Horne said if that happens he will seek court review. The fight concerns a 2004 voter-approved measure which requires both proof of citizenship to register and identification to cast a ballot at the polls. Foes challenged both.
A trial judge sided with the state on the ID at polling places requirement. Foes of the Arizona law never appealed that decision.
They also did not dispute that Arizona can demand citizenship proof from those who register using a state-designed form, or while renewing a driver’s license.
But they pointed out that the National Voter Registration Act requires states to “accept and use” a federal form authorized by Congress and designed by the commission. That form instead requires only that applicants sign an affidavit swearing they are citizens and eligible to vote.
The Supreme Court, in a 7-2 ruling, sided with challengers. But the justices did say Arizona remains free to ask the commission — again — to add the proof of citizenship requirement to the federal form it designed for Arizona.