The secretary of state’s office lacks the processes in place to remove about 78,000 potential noncitizens and nonresidents from its voter rolls.
In its last two quarterly reports issued to the state legislature in May and August, respectively, the department reported that it had received reports of but not acted on over 78,200 potentially invalid voters. The secretary of state’s office didn’t respond to our inquiry as to whether they have since put in place any processes to remove those potentially invalid voters from the voter rolls.
Through the beginning of August, the secretary of state received reports of over 53,200 persons reported to have been issued a driver’s license or equivalent of an Arizona nonoperating ID license in another state; over 1,300 persons who admitted to not being a citizen on a jury questionnaire; and over 23,600 persons who admitted to not being a resident of a county on a jury questionnaire. In those cases, the secretary of state’s office disclosed that a process for sending notices, placing voter registrations on inactive status, or canceling voter registrations was “in development.”
These reports were included as exhibits in a Monday filing by Attorney General Kris Mayes in the case Mi Familia Vota v. Adrian Fontes, a case seeking to nullify state election integrity laws requiring stricter standards for voter proof of citizenship and voter roll cleanups.
These reports were previously believed to have not been submitted to the legislature, per previous reporters’ accounts of an inability to obtain the records. According to the exhibits, the two reports were submitted to Sen. President Warren Petersen (R-AZ-14) and House Speaker Ben Toma (R-AZ-27).
Last month, the Democratic Party-backed activist groups secured a partial win in a ruling from Arizona District Court Judge Susan Bolton. The judge determined that the proof of citizenship requirement set forth by the two laws in question, HB 2492 and HB 2243, posed too great a burden on voters.
Several questions remain before the Arizona District Court in the case.
One concerns whether HB 2492’s requirement that voters provide their place of birth, referred to as the birthplace requirement, violates 52 U.S.C. § 10101(a)(2)(B), referred to as the materiality provision.
“No person acting under color of law shall – deny the right of any individual to vote in any election because of an error or omission on any record or paper relating to any application, registration, or other act requisite to voting, if such error or omission is not material in determining whether such individual is qualified under State law to vote in such election,” states the federal statute.
Last week, the Biden administration issued a brief declaring that birthplace wasn’t material to determining voter eligibility. Kristen Clarke, Civil Rights Division assistant attorney general, and Gary Restaino, Arizona District attorney, argued that certain individuals born in the U.S. can be noncitizens such as those with diplomat parents, those who later renounce their citizenship, and those born outside the country to U.S. citizen parents.
Another question concerns whether the voter list maintenance programs set forth by HB 2492 and HB 2243 violate 52 U.S.C. § 10101(a)(2)(A), referred to as the discrimination provision, or violate the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).
“No person acting under color of law shall – in determining whether any individual is qualified under State law or laws to vote in any election, apply any standard, practice, or procedure different from the standards, practices, or procedures applied under such law or laws to other individuals within the same county, parish, or similar political subdivision who have been found by State officials to be qualified to vote,” states the federal statute.
Another concerns whether the NVRA requirement that states accept and use the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) federal voter registration form preempts HB 2243’s voter list maintenance program.
The case is scheduled to go to trial on Nov. 6.
As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.