Proposition 200 Lawsuit

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Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne and Secretary of State Ken Bennett have filed suit in regards to Arizona’s proposition 200, which requires people registering to vote using a state form to prove their citizenship. The suit is an effort to get the federal government to have the same requirement on its voter registration forms.

Ted Simons: Arizona attorney general Tom Horne and secretary of state Ken Bennett have filed suit in regards to Arizona's proposition 200, which requires those registering to vote to use a state form to prove their citizenship. The suit is an effort to get Arizona's I.D. requirements on the federal government's voter registration forms. Here now to talk about the suit is Arizona secretary of state Ken Bennett. Good to have you back. So is that basically what Arizona is asking the federal courts here to do? I know there's a lot more here guided by the Supreme Court itself.

Ken Bennett: Well this went to the Supreme Court a few months ago and they said they would not order the election assistance commission at the federal level to include state by state specific instructions for Arizona. That if you want to register, you've got to attach proof of citizenship. They said go to the EAC, it's called, and see if they will voluntarily include those in their instructions like they have for Louisiana, last year. They just approved something for Louisiana that says if you don't have this or that, then you might have to attach something to the application. That's all we were asking for. Unfortunately, they said no again. And so as Judge Scalia wrote in the opinion that the Supreme Court issued, once we've asked the EAC and if they said no and they now have, we're going back to court like the Supreme Court said we would then be able to do. They wanted us to exhaust all of our administrative remedies and before they ordered a federal agency to do what we were asking, they wanted us to ask and see if they would do it voluntarily and they refused again.

Ted Simons: And again, the idea is that the state requirement regarding identification is different, requires different forms and different proof, then this mail-in federal registration form?

Ken Bennett: No, the voters in 2004 passed proposition 200, which said that when you register to vote in Arizona, you have to prove your citizenship. Send us a copy of your birth certificate, or a passport or naturalization papers, tribal identification, there's several documents that just about anybody's going to have one of those to prove their citizenship. And everything was fine until someone said well that's okay if they include those documents in when they register using a state form but they said that if you register using this generic federal form, that you shouldn't have to prove your citizenship because we shouldn't be able to require people to attach something to the federal form, that you shouldn't have to prove your citizenship because we shouldn't be able to require people to attach something to the federal form. But the election assistance commission has required or allowed other states to require attachments to come in with the form to prove whether you have a driver's license or things like that. So why the EAC has allowed a state like Louisiana to attach things to prove things that you're writing in the form whereas Arizona were rejected, we don't quite understand so now we're going to have to go back to the courts and see if they will order the EAC to do that now that they've told us no twice.

Ted Simons: I know the Supreme Court in the original decision, said the idea behind the Motor Voter Act, which is what this is all about as far as the federal registration form is concerned, is to make it easier for folks to register to vote and the Supreme Court said the Arizona law was inconsistent with the intent of that statute. This is the court here, obviously there was a little bit of direction there by Justice Scalia of how you get around that, but the fact is does this make it easier for folks to vote?

Ken Bennett: Well, I believe, and the voters of Arizona I think expressed when they passed proposition 200, that the fundamental goal in voter registration is not making it the easiest we can make it. There has to be some integrity in the system so that only people who are eligible to vote are getting registered to vote.

Ted Simons: Are we seeing --

Ken Bennett: And there's lots of things in all of the other instructions that they use for other states, you have to show driver's licenses or you have to show a utility bill to prove your residential address. We don't just take everything on its surface that I say I'm a citizen, I say I live here, I say my name is this --

Ted Simons: But when you say that, you are swearing under the possible penalty of perjury and that is considered a safeguard. And so far --

Ken Bennett: If you're going to lie about whether you're really eligible to register to vote, that check in a box to say you're telling the truth, is not going to stop you at all. I think in the last year, the counties in Arizona have had over 200 people who got registered to vote or were on the voter registration rolls but when they were mailed the jury questionnaire forms and they responded they said I'm not a citizen. I can't serve on a jury. Well, if they weren't a citizen, they shouldn't have been on the voter registration rolls. Maybe they're just lying because they don't want to be on the jury but I don't think in most important places -- the IRS doesn't let you just fill out your 1040 and say I made $60,000,. You attach a form, a W2 from your employer, that verifies that.

Ted Simons: But the IRS does say under possible penalties of x, y and z you are submitting this particular information. And the same thing is on the federal form -- I know some critics as well will say there's really no reason for this because there is no proof of widespread voter fraud.

Ken Bennett: Well, there were -- since the district court made the decision that says we cannot require them to submit the information but if they voluntarily provide the information that's asked for on the federal form, most of the people voluntarily provide driver's license or Social Security numbers and 90 percent of them we are able to verify their citizenship. We have had a handful of voters here in Arizona that have tried to register using the federal form and when they did provide their driver's license number, it was found that they were not in the country as a citizen, they were here legally but they weren't a citizen so they have what's called a Type F driver's license. When we checked their driver's license number that they provided on the federal form, they're not a citizen so we shouldn't allow them to register to vote. I think the integrity of our voting system starts with who is eligible to register to vote? And all we're asking for is to do what the voters of Arizona told us they wanted to be done and that is to verify citizenship when someone registered.

Ted Simons: Very quickly, time table for the court case. What's next and when?

Ken Bennett: It was filed in -- Kansas is in the same situation we are and maybe in a few months, we'll have a decision from the district court, depends on who wins as to whether that gets appealed up to the Supreme Court but it may be several months, maybe we'll have a decision from the district court level.

Ted Simons: Good to have you here.

Ken Bennett:Secretary of State;

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