Voting Rights Group Sues Over Arizona Citizenship Laws
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, Aug. 16, the Arizona Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander for Equity Coalition filed a lawsuit against Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D), Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) and multiple county recorders challenging two Arizona voter suppression laws, House Bill 2492 and House Bill 2243.
H.B. 2492 requires Arizonans using federal registration forms to provide documents proving their citizenship and requires election officials to provide the Arizona attorney general with a list of voters who do not provide satisfactory proof of citizenship for investigation. This applies to future registrants as well as retroactively to voters who registered when there was not a proof of citizenship requirement. H.B. 2492 also requires voters to provide their birthplace on their voter registration form despite birthplace not being material for registration qualification. According to the plaintiffs, this law will have a disproportionate impact on voters of color and naturalized voters and will have a “chilling effect” on the registration of naturalized voters.
H.B. 2243 enables county recorders to purge voters from the rolls so long as county recorders have a “reason to believe” that a voter is not a U.S. citizen based on a comparison of voter registrations to information from the state’s driver license database. According to the complaint, this process is likely to affect voters of color and naturalized voters by “chilling voters from registering to vote,” canceling the registrations of already registered voters and creating a scheme that would allow anyone to accuse someone of not being a citizen. The law is set to go into effect on Sept. 24, which the plaintiffs allege “has given [Arizona] just enough time to conduct one systematic voter purge of naturalized voters and voters of color just days before the midterm general election on November 8, 2022.”
The plaintiffs argue that, in total, these laws unduly burden the right to vote in violation of the First and 14th Amendments, violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment by treating voters differently depending on which type of form they use to register and discriminating against national origin, violate the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment by failing to provide voters a notice and opportunity to contest or cure lack of citizenship information or misinformation, discriminate on the basis of race in violation of the 14th and 15th Amendment, violate the Materiality Provision of the Civil Rights Act because birthplace is not material “to whether a registrant is qualified to vote” and violate the National Voter Registration Act by failing to comply with federally mandated registration procedures. The plaintiffs request that the challenged provisions of the laws be declared unconstitutional, prevent the enforcement of the laws and request that the court order that applicants who previously submitted forms, but whose applications were rejected for failure to provide birthplace, proof of residency and documentary citizenship be added to the rolls.
This is the sixth lawsuit challenging H.B. 2492 to be filed this year following Mi Familia Vota v. Hobbs, Living United for Change in Arizona v. Hobbs, Poder Latinx v. Hobbs, United States v. Arizona and Democratic National Committee v. Hobbs. This is the first lawsuit challenging H.B. 2243.