PHOENIX -- PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona officials will seek to ban residents from voting in statewide races if they can't prove citizenship — a move that critics called vindictive in light of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said the state couldn't require such documentation to cast ballots for federal offices.
The change was announced Monday by Attorney General Tom Horne and Secretary of State Ken Bennett, both Republicans.
"Because Arizona law requires a registration applicant to provide evidence of citizenship, registrants who have not provided sufficient evidence of citizenship should not be permitted to vote in state and local elections," Horne wrote in an opinion that was intended to give guidance on how to conduct the 2014 elections.
The Supreme Court in June struck down part of a 2004 voter-approved state law that required proof of legal U.S. residency to vote in any Arizona elections.
The only federal offices on Arizona ballots next year will be U.S. House seats. If Monday's change isn't overturned through legal action, residents who haven't submitted proof of citizenship won't be able vote for such offices as governor, secretary of state, attorney general and candidates for the state Legislature.
On their ballots, "they would just be getting the offices that they're eligible to cast their ballots for," Bennett spokesman Matt Roberts said.
However, Roberts acknowledged that a legal challenge is likely.
"We'll see how this shakes out, but elections officials don't get to wait and see. We'll be implementing," he said.
Dan Pochoda, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, called the move "ludicrous."
"At a minimum, it's a tremendous waste of resources at a time when people already are having to wait too long to vote in this state and it will deter voting for no good reason other than a vindictive attitude," Pochoda said. "There certainly appears to be possible serious concerns about legality."
The Arizona Democratic Party condemned the move as testing "the boundaries of absurdity."
"This will also create another confusing layer of bureaucracy to our voting system and potentially cost Arizona taxpayers millions of dollars," DJ Quinlan, the party's executive director, said in a statement.
The vast majority of Arizonans register by using a state form that requires proof of citizenship, such as a driver's license, U.S. birth certificate, passport or other similar document, a prerequisite under the voter-approved law.
The federal registration form requires registrants only to say they're citizens, but it doesn't require they submit proof.
Arizona and Kansas in August filed a lawsuit in an attempt to force the federal Election Assistance Commission to change its voter registration forms to compel proof of citizenship.
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The Template: California Proposition 187 (1994)
California's Proposition 187 was submitted to the voters with the full support of then Republican governor Pete Wilson. It essentially blamed undocumented immigrants for the poor performance of the state economy in the early 1990s. The law called for cutting off benefits to undocumented immigrants: prohibiting their access to health care, public education, and other social services in California. It also required state authorities to report anyone who they suspected was undocumented. <strong>Status:</strong> The law passed with the support of 55 percent of the voters in 1994 but declared unconstitutional 1997. The law was killed in 1999 when a new governor, Democrat Gray Davis, refused to appeal a judicial decision that struck down most of the law. Even though short-lived, the legislation paved the way for harsher immigration laws to come. On the other hand, the strong reaction from the Hispanic community and immigration advocates propelled a drive for naturalization of legal residents and created as many as one million new voters.
The Worst: Arizona SB 1070
The Arizona Act made it a misdemeanor for an undocumented immigrant to be within the state lines of Arizona without legal documents allowing their presence in the U.S. This law has been widely criticized as xenophobic and for encouraging racial profiling. It requires state authorities to inquire about an individual's immigration status during an arrest when there is "reasonable suspicion" that the individual is undocumented. The law would allow police to detain anyone who they believe was in the country illegally. <strong>Status:</strong> The law was signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on April 23, 2010. But it has generated a swirl of controversy and questions about its constitutionality. A federal judge issued a ruling that blocked what critics saw as some of the law's harshest provisions. House: 35-31 (4/12/2011)
Following Arizona's Footsteps: Georgia HB 87
The controversy over Arizona's immigration law was followed by heated debate over Georgia's own law. HB 87 required government agencies and private companies to check the immigration status of applicants. This law also limited some government benefits to people who could prove their legal status. <strong>Status:</strong> Although a federal judge temporarily blocked parts of the law considered too extreme, it went into effect on July 1st. 2011. House: 113-56 Senate: 39-17
Verifying Authorized Workers: Pennsylvania HB 1502
This bill, which was approved in 2010, bans contractors and subcontractors employ undocumented workers from having state construction contracts. The bill also protects employees who report construction sites that hire illegal workers. To ensure that contractors hire legal workers, the law requires employers to use the identification verification system E-verify, based on a compilation of legally issued Social Security numbers. <strong>Status:</strong> Approved on June 8th 2010. House: 188-6 (07/08/2010) <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/" target="_hplink">Flickr photo by DonkeyHotey</a>
A Spin Off of Arizona: Utah HB 497
Many states tried to emulate Arizona's SB 1070 law. However, most state legislatures voted against the proposals. Utah's legislature managed to approve an immigration law based on a different argument. Taking into consideration the criticism of racial profiling in Arizona, Utah required ID cards for "guest workers" and their families. In order to get such a card workers must pay a fee and have clean records. The fees go up to $2,500 for immigrants who entered the country illegally and $1,000 for immigrants who entered the country legally but were not complying with federal immigration law, <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2011/mar/06/nation/la-na-illegal-immigration-20110306" target="_hplink">according to the LA Times.</a> <strong>Status: </strong> Law went into effect on 03/15/2011 House: 59-15 (03/04/2011) Senate: 22-5 (03/04/2011)
The Most Comprehensive: Florida HB-1C
Florida's immigration law prohibits any restrictions on the enforcement of federal immigration law. It makes it unlawful for undocumented immigrants within the state to apply for work or work as an independent contractor. It forbids employers from hiring immigrants if they are aware of their illegal status and requires work applicants to go through the E-verify system in order to check their Social Security number. <strong>Status: </strong>effective since October 1st, 2010
The Hot Seat: Alabama HB 56
The new immigration law in Alabama is considered the toughest in the land, even harder than Arizona's SB 1070. It prohibits law enforcement officers from releasing an arrested person before his or her immigration status is determined. It does not allow undocumented immigrants to receive any state benefit, and prohibits them from enrolling in public colleges, applying for work or soliciting work in a public space. The law also prohibits landlords from renting property to undocumented immigrants, and employers from hiring them. It requires residents to prove they are citizens before they become eligible to vote. The law asked every school in the state to submit an annual report with the number of presumed undocumented students, but this part, along with others, were suspended by federal courts. <strong>Status:</strong> Approved June 2nd, 2011 House: 73-28 (04/05/2011) Senate: 23-11 (05/05/2011) <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/longislandwins/" target="_hplink">Flickr photo by longislandwins</a>