PHOENIX — Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne wants a federal commission to
approve a state provision requiring that those registering to vote using a
federal form provide proof of citizenship and warned Wednesday that he will sue
if the commission doesn’t act.
The U.S. Supreme Court in June ruled that Arizona could not require such proof
from people using the federal form. But the high court said Arizona could ask
the Election Assistance Commission to approve the citizenship proof requirement.
If the commission refused, Arizona could ask a federal court to overturn the
Horne released a letter to the commission on Wednesday saying he would sue if
they didn’t allow the proof requirement by Aug. 19. He noted that Justice
Antonin Scalia’s opinion pointed out that the commission approved similar
requirements in Louisiana.
“To grant Louisiana what is denied to Arizona, would evidence inexplicable
hostility to the citizens of Arizona, who passed Proposition 200
overwhelmingly,” Horne wrote, referring to the measure requiring certain
identification to vote.
Louisiana’s request was much different and only required information that was
already required at the polls for those using the federal form, said Nina
Perales, vice president of litigation for the Mexican American Legal Defense and
Educational Fund, a lawyer on the case decided by the Supreme Court. Arizona is
asking for much more, proof of citizenship, she said.
“That is very different from Arizona asking for documentation that is never
going to be required under federal law,” Perales said.
Arizona was rebuffed by the commission after Proposition 200 was passed, when
then-Secretary of State Jan Brewer asked for permission to require citizenship
proof with the federal forms. The commission told Brewer the state could not
require that proof to use the federal form.
“I think that the EAC is going to respond with the same decision that it gave
Arizona back in 2005, that the EAC will tell Arizona that it cannot impose these
document requirements because they conflict with the National Voter Registration
Act,” Perales said.
Most Arizonans use a state form that requires proof of citizenship as defined
by the 2004 proposition, which includes an Arizona driver’s license issued after
1996, a U.S. birth certificate, a passport or other similar document. The
Arizona law required similar proof before the state would approve the federal
But the high court’s 7-2 ruling held that states were required to accept the
federal form and could not adopt their own rules on their own.
Election Assistance Commission staff said Horne’s letter hadn’t arrived so they
could not comment. The commission currently has no active commissioners. The
four commissioners are supposed to be nominated by the president and confirmed
by the Senate, but the last two left in 2011, according to the panel’s website.