Individuals failed to prove citizenship, had registrations rejected in months prior to election
PHOENIX - Secretary of State Ken Bennett today denounced a demand from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) that ballots cast by potential non-citizens be tabulated as part of Arizona’s General Election results.
MALDEF has filed an emergency motion with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The group is asking the court to require that Arizona counties verify and count any ballots cast by individuals who attempted to register to vote but were rejected due to inability to prove U.S. citizenship in the months prior to the General Election. Specifically, the motion applies to registration applications rejected in the 90 days immediately prior to the Oct. 4 registration deadline for the Nov. 2 General Election.
“This request constitutes a real danger to the integrity of Arizona elections,” said Secretary Bennett. “These individuals’ attempts to register to vote were rejected according to state law because they wouldn’t – or couldn’t – prove they were U.S. citizens. The notion of now forcing counties and the state to count any ballots they may have cast is abhorrent and would harm our ability to ensure safe and secure elections.”
MALDEF’s motion follows a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last month that struck down Arizona’s longstanding requirement that individuals prove their citizenship when registering to vote. That provision is part of Proposition 200, which Arizona voters approved in 2004. Secretary Bennett is appealing the Circuit Court decision.
If granted, this latest MALDEF motion would force the state to count the ballots of individuals whose attempts to register to vote were specifically denied because they didn’t prove their citizenship. It also could grind the tabulation process to a halt as counties are forced to search their records for individuals whose registration applications were rejected and who cast provisional ballots in the election anyway.
“The 9th Circuit Court decision to strike down our citizenship requirement was an injustice and one I intend to fight. But this new motion to apply that ruling retroactively would only compound the error,” Secretary Bennett said. “We must not open Arizona’s voting booths to individuals who may not be United States citizens.”