By Jude Joffe-Block, KJZZ
Arizona voters can continue to register to vote using a federal registration form without having to provide the additional proof of citizenship documents required on state forms.
Election officials in both Arizona and Kansas tried to change that, but on Monday the Supreme Court declined to take up their appeal. Officials in Kansas and Arizona wanted the court to intervene to force the federal Election Assistance Commission to modify federal voter registration forms to reflect state proof of citizenship requirements.
The issue stems from a voter-approved Arizona law that requires additional proof of citizenship documents to register to vote in an effort to prevent non-citizens from voting. In 2013 the Supreme Court ruled that Arizona could not reject voters who correctly filled out federal voter registration forms that did not include the additional proof of citizenship requirements.
At that point, Arizona began accepting both the federal form and its own state registration form with stricter proof of citizenship requirements.
Many people can satisfy Arizona’s additional proof of citizenship requirement by writing their driver’s license number or state ID number on the state’s registration form. But it poses a burden on those who don’t have licenses says Sam Wercinski of the Arizona Advocacy Network.
In that situation, would-be-voters would have to submit a copy of their birth certificate or naturalization papers along with their Arizona registration forms.
“What the federal form allows eligible citizens to do is to register to vote when an opportunity to register to vote may presents itself and they aren’t carrying an Arizona driver’s license or their birth certificate or their naturalization document in their wallet or in their purse,” Wercinski said.
Wercinski recommends all groups doing voter registration drives in the state should use the federal form.
The federal form requires would-be-voters to sign under oath that they are citizens and eligible to vote.
Arizonans who successfully register with the federal form can automatically vote in federal races, including president, Senate and Congress. These voters are also allowed to vote in Arizona state races once county election officials are able to verify their American citizenship using government databases.
There are currently 1,135 Arizonans who registered to vote using the federal form but are unable to vote in state races because county officials have not been able to verify their citizenship, according to the Arizona Secretary of State’s office.
County officials are supposed to have notified these voters that they will not be eligible to vote in state races unless they send additional documentation.