Is Verifying Voters Citizenship Against the Law?

Press Releases

May 24, 2023

IRLI, attorneys group show Arizona is well within its rights

WASHINGTON—This week, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) and IRLI’s nationwide network of attorneys, Attorneys United for a Secure America (AUSA), both filed briefs in Arizona federal district court in a set of consolidated lawsuits brought by the federal government, the Democratic National Committee, and anti-borders activists. The suits aim to take down an Arizona law requiring state election officials to verify the U.S. citizenship of those applying to vote in federal elections in the state.

Under a federal law, states have to “accept and use” a particular federal-government voter registration form when signing up people to vote in federal elections. In an earlier case, the Supreme Court struck down an earlier Arizona law that required applicants using that form to provide proof of citizenship with the form. The Court held that Arizona was not “accepting and using” the federal form —which only had a citizenship check-box, and did not require proof of citizenship—because it added to its requirements.

As IRLI points out in its brief, and AUSA in its, the current Arizona law accepts the federal form as-is. Then, however, election officials are supposed to verify citizenship claims on the form by looking at databases. If they are not able to verify an applicant’s citizenship, even after contacting the applicant and asking for proof, they cannot register the applicant to vote.

The Constitution puts the states, not the federal government, in charge of voter qualifications (such as citizenship) in federal elections. And the citizenship requirement Arizona imposes is vital to the right of the American people to govern themselves. Arizona’s power to set voter qualifications is meaningless if it cannot police its most important qualification, citizenship.

In its brief, AUSA represents Advocates for Victims of Illegal Alien Crime (AVIAC). Don Rosenberg, president of AVIAC, opined regarding this case that “[v]oting is a sacred right of citizens. Considering the tremendous number of non-citizens (illegal aliens) flowing over the border every day, it is imperative that the border be made secure and registering to vote as well. Proof of citizenship is a minuscule price to pay to maintain election integrity.”

“No federal law can require states just to presume that people who say they are U.S. citizens are telling the truth, and the Supreme Court never said otherwise,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “We hope the court, or higher courts on appeal, sees these lawsuits for what they are—an outrageous, partisan attempt to get as many noncitizens to vote in Arizona as possible—and upholds Arizona’s law.”

The cases are Mia Familia Vota v. Fontes, No. 2:22-cv-00509 (D. Ariz.).

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Attorneys United for a Secure America (AUSA) is a non-partisan affiliation of talented attorneys dedicated to pursuing cases that serve the national interest when it comes to immigration law.

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