Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said Monday people who register to vote using a federal form in Arizona may only vote in federal elections.
Photo: Fernanda Echavarri
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne
His opinion was in response to questions from Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who asked Horne for legal advice on whether people who fill out a federal form — which does not require proof of citizenship — may vote in state elections that do require proof of citizenship.
The federal form requires people to swear they are citizens, but does not require documentation of it. Its use in Arizona was upheld in a U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this year.
Horne and other state officials have challenged federal authority on a number of fronts in recent years, winning some cases and losing others.
In his 16-page opinion, Horne said Arizona has required proof of citizenship for state voter registration since it became a state in 1912, and because the federal voter registration form doesn't require proof of citizenship, it doesn't meet the state standard.
Therefore, if a person fills out a federal voter registration form, he or she will only be eligible to vote in federal elections, Horne wrote in his opinion. That means Bennett must create ballots that include solely federal races for those voters, Horne wrote.
"Arizona law does not preclude using one form of ballots for federal offices only and another form for all state offices and measures," Horne wrote to Bennett.
If a person fills out a state voter registration form, after proving he or she is a U.S. citizen, the person can vote in state and federal elections, Horne wrote.
Horne said in his opinion that form may only be used for federal elections and that if someone wishes to vote in state or local elections, the person must also fill out a state voter registration form, and provide proof of citizenship.
"Because Arizona law requires a registration applicant to prove evidence of citizenship, registrants who have not provided sufficient evidence of citizenship should not be permitted to vote in state and local elections unless such a dual registration system is invalid under the federal or state constitution," Horne wrote in his opinion.