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Attorney General Horne Threatens to Sue Federal Agency Over Proof of Citizenship Requirement

State of Arizona Argues that Evidence of Citizenship is Necessary to Enforce and Ensure People Who Register to Vote are Citizens

Phoenix, AZ (Wednesday, July 31, 2013) – Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne has threatened to sue the Elections Assistance Commission if it does not approve a state-specific requirement, consistent with proposition 200 passed by Arizona voters, under which Arizona can ask people registering to vote for evidence that they are citizens.The request stems from a recent decision by the United States Supreme Court in Arizona vs. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, which was argued by Horne. That case considered whether proposition 200 was preempted by federal law. 

In that decision, the United States Supreme Court noted that determining qualifications for voters in federal elections is a state, not a federal function. The Court stated that “it would raise serious constitutional doubts if a federal statute precluded a state from obtaining the information necessary to enforce its voter qualifications.” Arizona argues that evidence of citizenship is necessary to enforce its voter qualification that only citizens vote.

The Supreme Court stated that Arizona could apply to the Elections Assistance Commission for a state-specific requirement that potential registrants furnish evidence of citizenship. If the Elections Assistance Commission refuses to give that permission, then Arizona may sue on the grounds that that refusal is a violation of Arizona’s constitutional duties under Article 1 § 2 of the United States Constitution, and the United States Supreme Court statement quoted above.

In the letter, Horne states that if the EAC does not grant the request within 60 days of the date of the letter which made the request, a deadline of August 19, then Arizona will sue to obtain the relief for which it is entitled. 

A copy of the letter is attached.

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