The Department of Justice claims that Arizona’s restrictive new voting law poses clear constitutional challenges.
The United States Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Arizona, claiming a recently passed law requiring voters to produce proof of citizenship is unnecessarily restrictive and violates residents’ constitutional rights.
In its complaint, the Justice Department alleges that the new state law, signed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey in March, conflicts with a 1993 federal voter registration statute. The lawsuit also alleges that Arizona’s citizenship requirement violates the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Additionally, federal prosecutors claim that the language used on Arizona’s voting forms was rejected by the United States Supreme Court in 2013.
According to The Associated Press, the Justice Department contends that Arizona knew its citizenship requirements are not legal—but decided to codify the new rules anyway, believing they would enhance election security.
Assistant Attorney Kristin Clarke of the department’s Civil Rights Division said that the new law, which goes into effect in January, is “a textbook violation of the National Voter Registration Act.”
The Act, says Clarke, mandated reforms—and requires that states eliminate obstacles to voter registration.
“Arizona has passed a law that turns the clock back on progress by imposing unlawful and unnecessary requirements that would block eligible voters from the registration rolls for certain federal elections,” Clarke said in a statement.
The Associated Press reports that the law would prohibit federal-only voters from voting by mail.
It would also mandate that state election officials cross-check voter registration records with government databases, and file a report against anyone who is not a confirmed U.S. citizen.
Arizona residents would also be obliged to provide proof of address when registering to vote for the first time.
Local election officials told The Associated Press that the reforms will make it substantially more difficult for people to vote by mail and register to vote.
However, some civil rights advocates have raised concerns that Arizona wants the bill to be challenged, hoping that it can persuade the conservative United States Supreme Court to support so-called election security safeguards.
Nevertheless, Gov. Ducey called the bill “a balanced approach that honors Arizona’s history of making voting accessible without sacrificing security in our elections.”
“Election integrity means counting every lawful vote and prohibiting any attempt to illegally cast a vote,” Gov. Ducey said.
Arizona, along with several other Republican-controlled states, passed stringent voting restrictions in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.
While former President Donald Trump and his allies have alleged that widespread voter fraud influenced the outcome of the election, there is no compelling evidence to suggest that any such fraud occurred on the scale needed to have kept Trump in office.