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Updated Dec 17, 2012 - 2:43 pm

Obama birth issue raised by 3 Arizona electors

PHOENIX — Critics of President Barack Obama used a ceremony to record
Arizona’s Electoral College votes Monday as a new opportunity to voice their
doubts over his eligibility to hold the nation’s highest office, an issue that
officials have repeatedly attempted to put to rest.

All 11 Arizona electors cast their votes for defeated Republican nominee Mitt
Romney, who won the state’s popular vote.

The state Republican Party chairman Tom Morrissey and two other Electoral College members
spoke up during the ceremony to voice doubts about Obama’s eligibility as a
native-born U.S. citizen.

College member Don Ascoli, who recently finished serving as Republican Party
chairman in Gila County, said he didn’t think Obama was “properly vetted as a
legitimate candidate for president.”

John D. Rhodes also spoke out.

Hawaii officials have certified that Obama was born in that state. White House
officials also have released Obama’s birth certificate in an attempt to get past
such questions.

Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who presided over the Electoral College
ceremony, later said he did not share the views of the three college members,
but he said the college members were exercising their First Amendment rights.

Gov. Jan Brewer, who observed the ceremony, later said she disagreed with the
three college members’ opinions.

“The bottom line is everybody is entitled to their own opinion. I happen to
disagree,” she said.

Brewer in 2011 vetoed a bill passed by the Arizona Legislature to require Obama
and other presidential candidates to prove their U.S. citizenship before their
names could appear on the state’s ballot.

The bill would have made Arizona the first state to pass such a requirement.

Brewer said in her veto letter that she was troubled that the bill empowered
Arizona’s secretary of state to judge the qualifications of all candidates when
they file to run for office.

The U.S. Constitution requires that presidential candidates be natural-born
U.S. citizens, be at least 35 and be a resident of the United States
for at least 14 years.

Nationally, Obama is on course to get 332 electoral college votes to Romney’s
206, barring extremely rare defectors known as “faithless electors.”

Electors across the nation also were affirming Joe Biden for another term as
vice president.

KTAR’s Aaron Granillo contributed to this report.


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