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Justice Department Sues Arizona Over New Law Requiring Federal Voters To Show Proof Of Citizenship

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Topline

The Justice Department announced Tuesday it has filed a lawsuit against Arizona, claiming that a new state law that requires voters to show proof of U.S. citizenship in order to cast a ballot in presidential elections is unconstitutional.

A replica of the Liberty Bell in front of Arizona State Capitol Building at sunrise.

Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Key Facts

Arizona’s House Bill 2492– which was signed into law in March by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey and slated to take effect next year–would require anyone voting for president or voting by mail in any federal election to provide proof of citizenship and documentation of their birthplace before registering to vote.

Kristen Clarke, the assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s civil rights division, told reporters Tuesday that the law was “a textbook violation” of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, which sets registration requirements for federal elections, according to Bloomberg.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) called the lawsuit “frivolous,” and argued that “showing your ID to vote is easy, common and necessary,” and not discriminatory.

Crucial Quote

“This lawsuit reflects our deep commitment to using every available tool to protect all Americans’ right to vote and to ensure that their voices are heard in our democracy,” Clarke told the media Tuesday according to Reuters.

Tangent

In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down an earlier Arizona law that required proof of citizenship to vote in federal elections, but ruled Arizona could require proof of citizenship to take part in state elections.

Key Background

The lawsuit marks a major step by the Biden administration to combat a wave of voter restriction laws, passed largely in Republican-controlled states. President Donald Trump baselessly claimed he lost the 2020 presidential election because of widespread voter fraud, which has repeatedly been debunked. Since then, more states have proposed laws proponents say protect election integrity. Last year, six states enacted new voter identification laws, though 160 were proposed in statehouses nationwide, according to a tally by the National Conference of State Legislatures. While Ducey and other Arizona Republicans say the law will protect the security of elections, critics say the legislation creates an undue hurdle to take part in elections and it goes a step further than what federal courts have determined is permissible for voter registration requirements. HB 2492 could lead to thousands of Arizona voters being stripped from the state’s voter rolls and forced to re register, ACLU of Arizona lobbyist Marilyn Rodriguez told NPR.

Further Reading

Arizona Sued by Justice Department Over Voter ID Requirements (Bloomberg)

U.S. Justice Dept sues Arizona over restrictive voting requirements (Reuters)

Arizona Republicans enact a controversial new proof-of-citizenship voting law (NPR)

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