Arizona Advocacy Network

Government of, by and for the People

PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Some see it as a victory for voters' rights, others as an opportunity for undocumented immigrants to cast a vote. An appeals court judge ruled you do not need proof of citizenship to vote for federal candidates, though Arizona argues otherwise.  In 2005, Arizona voters approved a measure requiring proof of citizenship to vote for state races. They can only vote for federal offices, something the secretary of state's office just unsuccessfully tried to change.
 
"Arizona politicians want to make it as hard to vote as possible," said Sam Wercinski, with the Arizona Advocacy Network. He said there are plenty of people who want to vote for state races, but can't because they lost their papers. 
 
"From 2005 through 2008, over 30,000 eligible Arizonans not be able to register to vote because they couldn't provide the extra paperwork," Wercinski said.
 
To cut down on voter fraud, the secretary of state's office wanted to make proof of citizenship a requirement for federal races, too; right now, you can just submit a sworn statement and get a separate ballot.
 
But Wercinski - and now an appeals court judge - said that's not necessary. 
 
"Arizona politicians want the public to believe there's a problem so there's low turnout and they can stay in power," Wercinski said. 
 
"It's kind of like putting a little bit of a fire, a match, under an issue that's kind of simmered down a little bit," said ASU professor emeritus Bruce Merrill.
 
He said he thinks the impact will be minimal since there are already so few cases of undocumented immigrants trying to vote. 
 
"A few now, once they hear about this, may try and vote, and if they do, they'll be given the opportunity to on the federal ballot, to vote," Merrill said.
 
We reached out to the Arizona Secretary of State's office, as well as the Maricopa County Elections Department; neither could comment, saying they don't yet know how this impact their offices. 
 

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