A federal court in Arizona temporarily blocked the enforcement of a new law in the state that threatens the voter registrations of those suspected of ineligibility to vote because of a potential lack of U.S. citizenship — suspicions that evidently don’t require much for action.
In reality, the law could easily provide for targeted legal harassment of those who even look, at least to some, like their birthplace might be outside of the U.S. As in each and every other case of zealous Republicans pushing new state-level restrictions on the electoral process, there is no evidence of widespread fraud issues that would necessitate the changes. Nowhere in the country are non-citizens getting around supposedly lax standards and casting ballots in substantial numbers. As explained by the voting rights organization Democracy Docket, the challenged Arizona law demands that county officials handling election-related matters move to potentially cancel a voter’s registration if they obtain details indicating the individual doesn’t have the needed qualifications to legally cast a ballot or if they end up with a “reason to believe” the registered voter isn’t actually a U.S. citizen.
There are caveats. Under the law, voters facing cancellations of their registrations over suspicions about their citizenship status — whatever the source of supposed evidence for those suspicions — will get a little over a month to show they’re a citizen. There is a possibility of criminal prosecution for individual voters placed under scrutiny. “HB 2243 essentially allows anyone, without evidence, to simply give a list of names of people who are purportedly not citizens to the county recorders, thus triggering a check that can lead to improperly canceled voter registrations and potential investigation and prosecution of eligible and registered Arizonans,” the original lawsuit says.
The federal court temporarily stopped the enforcement of the challenged law in a preliminary move that covers the midterm elections. The court took action after agreements from parties involved in the case. Now, no official is allowed to undertake action “to implement or enforce H.B. 2243 in a manner that would remove any voter’s eligibility to vote in the 2022 general election or disqualify any otherwise-valid ballot on the basis of H.B. 2243.” The lawsuit is from the Arizona Asian American Native Hawaiian And Pacific Islander For Equity Coalition, which also noted — among other issues — how voters with limited English proficiency could face difficulties in dealing with newly instituted requirements for proving citizenship. The original case, in which the coalition is also challenging another newly imposed, suppressive law, alleges violations of multiple amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the Civil Rights Act, and the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).
The other law is HB 2492, which demands prospective voters provide a proof of citizenship “before they can vote in presidential elections or vote by mail in any federal election when they register to vote using the uniform federal registration form created by the NVRA,” as the Justice Department, which is also challenging the measure, summarized it. “This bill ensures that there is maximum flexibility to provide documentary proof of citizenship, but we don’t want foreign interference in our elections,” Arizona state Rep. Jake Hoffman (R) said regarding the latter bill. Does he live on Earth? Does he think “foreign interference” in elections is happening via people moving to Arizona, registering to vote without obtaining citizenship, casting a ballot, and then… leaving? What’s the idea here? Does he think foreign countries are secretly putting fake registrations on the rolls in Arizona?