Federal Judge Strikes Down Key Provisions of Arizona Voter Suppression Law

WASHINGTON, DC On Thursday, Sept. 14, a federal judge struck down key provisions of an Arizona voter suppression law, House Bill 2492. While key provisions were struck down, there will be a trial on Nov. 6 challenging the legality of other provisions of H.B. 2492 and House Bill 2243. 

H.B. 2492 creates new restrictive proof of citizenship requirements for voters. H.B. 2243 allows for more voter purges and requires county recorders to cancel a voter’s registration if they receive information that a voter is not qualified to vote or if the county officials have a “reason to believe” that a voter is not a U.S. citizen. 

After these voter suppression laws were passed in early 2022, eight lawsuits were filed challenging H.B. 2492 and 2243’s  provisions under the First and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, the Materiality Provision of the Civil Rights Act and the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). 

While neither law has been implemented, in Sept. 2022, H.B. 2243 was temporarily blocked for the 2022 midterm elections. Now, as a result of yesterday’s order, several provisions of the laws are blocked while several provisions will continue to be challenged at trial. 

In Arizona, there is a dual registration system: voters can either register to vote using the federal voter registration form or the state voter registration form. H.B 2492 requires voters who registered to vote using the federal form to provide documentary proof of citizenship and if a voter failed to do so they would not be permitted to vote by mail nor would they be able to vote in presidential elections. 

To provide documentary proof of citizenship, Arizonans can provide any form of documentation from a limited list that includes an Arizona driver’s license issued after 1996, a passport and other options. 

As a result of Thursday’s order, the provision requiring documentary proof of citizenship for voters using the federal form is now blocked. Practically, this means that Arizonans who register to vote using either the federal or state form but fail to provide documentary proof of citizenship will be registered to vote in all elections if the county recorder can confirm they are citizens. If a county recorder cannot confirm they are a citizen, but also does not establish that the voter is not a citizen, the voter will still be able to vote in federal and presidential elections. 

A screenshot of Arizona's voter registration form

In addition, if a voter fails to check the box attesting that they are a citizen (pictured above) but provides documentary proof of citizenship, that voter will be registered to vote. If the voter does not provide documentary proof of citizenship, the application can still be rejected. 

While the court did find that H.B. 2243’s systemic removal requirement (also known as voter purges) within 90 days of an election on violates the NVRA, other provisions of H.B. 2243 will go to trial to determine if the law would result in “nonuniform”, “discriminatory” and illegal cancellations of legitimate voter registrations. 

In addition, the court sided with the Tohono O’odham plaintiffs and ordered that you do not need to have a street address for your home to satisfy proof of residency requirements.  The court also expanded the list of documents that can be used to satisfy residency requirements, which include using:

  • A valid unexpired Arizona driver license or nonoperating ID (“AZ-issued ID”), regardless of whether the address on the Arizona-issued ID matches the address on the holder’s voter registration form and even if the Arizona-issued ID lists only a P.O. Box.
  • Any tribal identification document, including but not limited to a census card, an identification card issued by a tribal government or a tribal enrollment card, regardless of whether the tribal identification document contains a photo, a physical address, a P.O. Box or no address.
  • Written confirmation signed by the registrant that they qualify to register under H.B. 2492.  

Under H.B. 2492, Arizonans who registered using the state registration form and failed to list their birthplace, would also have been denied their right to vote. The plaintiffs argue that this provision violates the Materiality Provision of the Civil Rights Act. which prevents denying the right to vote based on  trivial errors or omissions that are not related to a person’s eligibility. This claim will proceed to trial. While this lawsuit is not yet over, it is a victory for Arizona voters that some parts of these suppressive laws will not be implemented. 

Read the order here.

Learn more about the case here.