US Sues Arizona Over Its New Voting Law

Tens of thousands could be disenfranchised without proof of citizenship, critics say
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 6, 2022 4:07 PM CDT
US Sues Arizona Over Its New Voting Law
Voters deliver their ballot to a polling station in Tempe, Ariz., on Nov. 3, 2020.   (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

(Newser) – The Justice Department is suing Arizona over a new law requiring proof of citizenship to vote in presidential elections, calling it a "textbook violation" of the National Voter Registration Act. The lawsuit filed Tuesday seeks to overturn House Bill 2492, passed in March and scheduled to take effect in January, which state Republicans tout as a safeguard against voter fraud. Arizona state law requires proof of citizenship to vote in state elections. Those who register to vote in federal elections using the federal form must swear they are citizens, but they don't have to produce proof of that. The new law seeks to close that gap.

Democrats argue the law is actually designed to keep certain groups, such as immigrants and Native Americans (who may not have birth certificates if they were born on reservations), from voting, per the Washington Post. Critics say it could disenfranchise at least 31,500 voters who are only registered to vote at the federal level, per the New York Times, which explains the state would need to track down and verify their citizenship information. President Biden won the state in 2020 by about 10,000 votes, meaning that number in question is significant (some critics say the impacted number could be higher).

The legally questionable nature of the new law has been clear from the get-go. Per the DOJ, it conflicts with a 1993 federal voter registration law and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Further, the Supreme Court struck down a similar Arizona law in 2013, but that ruling referenced only congressional elections; state Republicans hope the presidential angle will allow for a more successful outcome. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, has vowed to fight the lawsuit he paints as an effort to allow undocumented immigrants "a chance to vote." Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke says "the Justice Department will continue to use every available tool to protect all Americans' right to vote and to ensure that their voices are heard." (The department has also sued over voting laws in Texas and Georgia.)

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