Federal Judge Issues Ruling on Arizona’s New Voting Laws Mandating Proof of Citizenship

In 2022 the then-Gov. Doug Ducey (a Republican) signed the new voting restrictions into law, which prompted criticism from voting activists.

A federal judge has upheld new Arizona laws that require voters to prove their U.S. citizenship before their vote can be counted.

Arizona legislators were accused of discrimination after they passed laws that required counties to verify registered voters. However, U.S. district judge Susan Bolton, in her ruling on Thursday, ruled such requirements weren’t discriminatory.

Bolton stated that the state is interested in preventing fraud by voters and restricting voting to only those who are eligible to vote.

The judge wrote: “Considering all the evidence, the court concludes Arizona’s interest in preventing noncitizens from voting and promoting public trust in Arizona’s election outweighs any burden that voters may experience when asked to provide proof of citizenship.”

Bolton’s ruling clarified that one of the laws required individuals to list their state or country on state registration forms. This would be a violation of the Civil Rights Act as well as a section of the National Voter Registration Act.

The judge stated that county officials asking for the state or country where a person was born would lead to county recorders falsely believing a naturalized citizen is not a citizen.

Bolton examined several measures, including requiring state election officials to cross-check their registration information against various government databases to verify citizenship. They would then report any individuals they couldn’t locate to prosecutors.

The ruling says that, although it is possible, non-citizens are not likely to vote in Arizona, and there is little evidence of non-citizen fraud. The voting laws will not reduce non-citizens voting in Arizona. However, they can help prevent non-citizens from registering to vote or voting.

The decision comes after testimony in a bench trial held in late 2023. Experts testified on Arizona’s long history of discrimination against voters.

The previous requirements for voting included literacy tests, which effectively excluded Native Americans and Latinos from voting and voter rolls purges.

Bolton stated that past attempts at excluding voters are irrelevant to current efforts to prevent voter fraud. The judge noted that the plaintiffs had not presented any evidence to show an intention by legislators to suppress voter registration.

Then-Gov. Doug Ducey (a Republican) signed the laws into law.

These laws were passed after the presidential election of 2020, which was marred by allegations of voter fraud.

Then-Gov. Doug Ducey (a Republican) signed into law the measures, which were passed by a party-line vote.

Ducey wrote, “Election Integrity means counting each lawful vote while prohibiting any attempt at illegal voting.”