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Arizona voters head to the polls

Voters enter Burton Barr Central Library to cast their ballots on November 3, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images)

Arizona Senate Passes GOP Bill That Could Spark 'Most Extreme Voter Purge' in US

"This is a recipe for chaos, not election integrity, and it would likely cut the state's electorate in half overnight," warned one observer.

Jake Johnson

The Arizona Senate on Wednesday passed a Republican-authored bill that advocates warn could prompt "the most extreme voter purge in the country" by requiring state residents to retroactively provide proof of citizenship to stay on the rolls.

"This bill places a disproportionate—and often insurmountable—burden on older, minority, and low-income voters."

Marilyn Rodriguez, founder of the Arizona-based firm Creosote Partners, argued in a Twitter thread that H.B. 2492 is a "monumentally terrible attack on our elections."

"Take the proof of citizenship requirement for voter registration, which was adopted in '04. By making this a requirement for voters, this bill would retroactively apply it to the millions of AZ voters registered before the proof of citizenship law took effect 18 years ago," Rodriguez explained. "Arizona is the only state in the nation with a documentary proof of citizenship requirement currently in force, but it exempts previously registered voters. But this bill would do away with that protection."

Without intervention by the Arizona Supreme Court, Rodriguez continued, "the clear language here means that to be eligible to vote—regardless of when you registered—you need to have shown proof of citizenship."

"Imagine how many of Arizona's 4.35 million registered voters would be immediately forced off the rolls or given just 30 days to provide proof of their citizenship, such as a birth or naturalization certificate," she wrote. "This is a recipe for chaos, not election integrity, and it would likely cut the state's electorate in half overnight. If Arizona proceeds with this bill, it will draw numerous lawsuits and be in lonely, uncharted waters defending the indefensible."

Just one of a slew of voter suppression measures that the GOP-controlled Arizona legislature is currently working to advance—including a bill to abolish early voting—H.B. 2492 now heads to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey's desk, having passed the state House last month along party lines.

Arizona, which President Joe Biden carried narrowly in 2020, emerged as a flashpoint in efforts by former President Donald Trump and his Republican allies to overturn the election results.

Following the November 2020 presidential contest, state Republicans fueled by Trump's baseless claims of fraud hired the now-defunct firm Cyber Ninjas to conduct an audit of ballots in the state's most populous county. The review ultimately found that Biden won the election.

"A group of Arizona legislators continue to directly attack democracy and voting rights using every tool at their disposal."

But Arizona Republicans, as evidenced by H.B. 2492 and other legislation, have yet to abandon their unfounded narrative that the state's election system is riddled with unlawful voting and "foreign interference."

"A group of Arizona legislators continue to directly attack democracy and voting rights using every tool at their disposal," Alex Gulotta, Arizona state director of All Voting Is Local, said in a statement Wednesday. "Ducey must veto H.B. 2492, which creates illegal barriers to voting for the people of Arizona by imposing improper requirements on voter registration."

Gulotta warned that the legislation, sponsored by state Rep. Jake Hoffman (R-12), requires "anyone who registered to vote before 2005 to provide additional documentation" and "targets voters born outside the United States for special scrutiny and investigation."

"Bills like this one are being passed through the Arizona legislature to appease a small, but loud group of legislators who are basing their decisions on unfounded claims from the sham election review conducted by the discredited and defunct Cyber Ninjas," said Gulotta. "This is the latest anti-voter measure from a group of legislators who are more interested in grabbing power than protecting the will of the people. Even though their own Senate rules attorney told them this bill was illegal, they continue to recklessly squander taxpayer money by provoking inevitable and expensive litigation."

H.B. 2492 is one of more than 250 bills that state-level Republicans nationwide have intro­duced, pre-filed, or carried over into 2022 in an effort to restrict ballot access, according to the latest tally by the Brennan Center for Justice.

"Across the country, Republican state legislators are trying to purge voters and erect massive barriers to the ballot box in order to choose their voters and exclude everyone else," said Christina Harvey, executive director of Stand Up America. "Arizona's H.B. 2492 is one of the most egregious examples of anti-voter legislation being peddled by the GOP under the guise of election integrity."

"But there's no hiding their true intentions; this bill places a disproportionate—and often insurmountable—burden on older, minority, and low-income voters," Harvey added. "A vote for H.B. 2492 is a vote to disenfranchise Arizonans. Governor Ducey must now decide whether he's on the side of everyday Arizonans or the Republican legislators who are trying to silence their voices."

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