Requiring proof of citizenship to vote: Is DOJ right to sue Arizona?

Carlos Barría / Reuters

Fact Box

  • On July 5, 2022, the Justice Department sued Arizona for a law that would require proof of citizenship to register to vote in the state. The House Bill 2492 was signed on March 30, 2022 noting that “every resident of this state is qualified to register to vote if the resident: Is a citizen of the United States and has provided satisfactory evidence of citizenship.” The Arizona law applied to federal elections as local elections already required proof of citizenship and residency. 
  • The Supreme Court previously struck down Arizona’s requirement to prove proof of citizenship for voting purposes on June 17, 2013 by a 7-2 vote. Justice Antonin Scalia asserted that the 1993 National Voter Registration Act was the more acceptable form, however, if Arizona wanted to add requirements, they would need to get permission from the Election Assistance Commission. 
  • The Brennan Center reported that legislators in 27 states introduced, pre-filed, or carried over 250 bills with qualifications for voting, while 32 states provided 399 bills to expand voting access in January 2022. 
  • The US Constitutions list four amendments that relate to citizens’ voting rights: the 15th (right to vote for all races), 19th (women’s right to vote), 24th (no poll taxes), and 26th (right to vote at age 18) Amendments.

Andrew (Yes)

In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that states cannot require voters to prove their citizenship. Arizona’s attempt to restrict voting in this way is a clear violation of this court decision, and the Department of Justice is fulfilling its designated purpose in suing the state. Notably, it’s strange that Arizona would attempt to make access to voting more difficult in this way, as it was the same state that lost the 2013 Supreme Court case.

In addition to this most recent Supreme Court decision, Arizona’s new law also violates the 1993 Federal Voter Registration Act and the 1964 Civil Rights Act. These federal laws have been put in place to ensure that states don’t impose undue burdens on voters in an attempt to suppress the wishes of certain groups. Equal representation is a cornerstone of our democracy, and attempted voter suppression is rightly a primary concern of the DOJ.

While this current republic-led effort to stifle democracy is masquerading as the simple verification of citizenship requirements, the fact is that laws like these are often designed to discourage voter turnout for specific demographics, predominantly minority groups who tend to more often vote Democratic. As was proved by the 2020 election, where there was no widespread fraud found by independent monitors, there are no security reasons for a law like this to be in place. Laws like this only exist to stifle certain viewer blocks, and the Department of Justice is correct to go after them.

Suzanne (No)

The DOJ has its priorities out of order. It has used the FBI to investigate parents from school board meetings and has now targeted Arizona for exercising its constitutional authority to set election rules--yet, it hasn't investigated Antifa's attacks on private property throughout 2020. This department is not the unbiased, neutral, justice-seeking body it purports to be. 

Arizona's law is rooted in common sense to prevent the perversion of our democratic republic, as Biden's border policies have incentivized record-high illegal border crossings of foreign nationals. Arizona, and other border states, have plenty of reasons to request voter verification. In 2018, almost 2,000 voters had no proof of citizenship on file, but in 2020, that number had increased to nearly 12,000 people without documented citizenship who could 'cast ballots in the federal election.' Maricopa County alone has a population of over 13,000 registered voters who haven't shown proof of citizenship. Biden won Arizona by 10,457 votes in 2020. A number this seismic could swing entire states. Accuracy in verifying those voting in elections matters. 

Ironically, the Democrat party, which currently rules the federal government, constantly pushes against all election integrity measures, often demonizing them as 'racist.' One should stop and ask why that is. Americans must show ID to fly, drive, purchase certain items, etc. It's actually more racist to suggest people of a certain race are incapable of attaining proper legal identification. Likewise, 70% of Blacks support voter ID. Adding ID requirements is a way to protect our democratic system and should be a requirement across stateliness. A government body that wasn't somehow invested in the outcomes of illegal immigration would support these common-sense voter verification measures.

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