Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey on Wednesday signed legislation that would require all Arizonans to provide proof of citizenship and residency to register to vote, sparking criticism from voting rights advocates who say it will potentially cancel thousands of voter registrations and are exploring legal challenges in response.
State law already requires Arizona residents who want to register to vote in state elections to provide proof of citizenship. But this legislation, passed by the GOP-controlled legislature, extends those requirements to residents who are only voting in federal elections. Currently, individuals who use a federal voter registration form are required to attest under penalty of perjury that they are a citizen, but proof is not required.
Under the new law, elections officials would need to verify the citizenship status of any voter who submits a federal voter registration form without the proper proof. And any county recorder or election official who doesn’t attempt to verify citizenship status and knowingly registers a voter without the proper documentation could be charged with a felony. The state attorney general could also investigate any voter without proof of citizenship and could prosecute noncitizens who register to vote.
“H.B. 2492 provides clarity to Arizona law on how officials process federal form voter registration applications that lack evidence of citizenship,” Ducey said.
Voting rights advocates point out that many voters didn’t have to previously provide such proof. Critics also say that such documentation is not readily available when people are filing out the forms.
“People can probably produce (the documentation) if they know they need to, but they’re probably not going to have them in the grocery store (when at a voter registration drive),” Alex Gulotta, Arizona director of All Voting is Local, told CNN Wednesday.
Critics also say the bill would do most harm to voters who lack a valid state driver’s license or identification card like students, the elderly and tribal communities. They say they are expecting litigation to challenge the legislation.