Merrick Garland Targets Arizona GOP’s Voter Suppression Attempt

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The Justice Department has sued over an Arizona law that requires voters registering in the state to also submit proof of their citizenship status. The measure could unfairly penalize people who don’t have or may have a difficult time accessing such proof but are otherwise legally allowed to vote.

Indigenous Americans born outside a hospital would be among those without the required proof of citizenship who are nonetheless eligible to vote according to previously established law. Arizona state Sen. Sally Ann Gonzales (D) indicated she knows a significant number of people who don’t have the paperwork that would be needed. “They never had the need to register their birth… I don’t know if they realize it or if they just don’t care that there’s lots of people in the situation who don’t have a birth certificate to prove their citizenship,” she said. In addition, there’s no documented issue of non-citizens or otherwise ineligible individuals voting in remotely substantial numbers in U.S. elections. The Arizona law essentially responds to an imaginary problem, adding another hurdle for voters to overcome in the process.

“Arizona has passed a law that turns the clock back on progress by imposing unlawful and unnecessary requirements that would block eligible voters from the registration rolls for certain federal elections,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said Tuesday. She referred to the challenged Arizona law as a “textbook violation” of a piece of federal law known as the National Voter Registration Act. Without court intervention, the Arizona law — which apparently did not receive any support from Democrats in the state legislature — is set to take effect next year.

“The bill requires voters to provide proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers, on a federal voter registration form,” The Washington Post states. Besides these measures, it gets more aggressive: “County recorders would also be required to check voter rolls against citizenship databases and purge anyone who isn’t listed as an eligible citizen. Recorders who don’t comply could face felony charges,” the Arizona Mirror reported. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to imagine that this set-up could lead to individuals being essentially pointlessly targeted for additional scrutiny on the potential basis of their perceived ethnic background. Election officials in Arizona who accept regulated voter registrations that don’t include the required proof of citizenship could also face felony criminal charges under the challenged law.

The U.S. Supreme Court has already dealt with and ruled against a similar initiative in Arizona in the past. In 2013, the court “found that Arizona cannot supersede federal law, which doesn’t require proof of citizenship to register to vote,” the Mirror explains. A Republican identified by the Mirror as this law’s sponsor — Arizona state Rep. Jake Hoffman — has been a vocal supporter of lies about the integrity of the last presidential election and was even one of those who signed on as supposed alternate electors for Trump from Arizona, where Biden won. The scheme to assemble essentially faked electoral votes on Trump’s behalf in states where Biden was victorious had no legal foundation.