February 24, 2024 2:35 PM

Arizona House votes to delay controversial new election law

The Arizona House voted Monday to delay the effective date for legislation signed last month requiring voters to provide evidence of their citizenship, which has already prompted two lawsuits amid fears by voting-rights advocates that it could cancel the registrations of thousands of people.

If approved by the Senate and Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, the citizenship requirement would take effect after the 2022 election, a concession demanded by a Republican lawmaker who provided the final vote to pass the bill out of the Senate. As it stands now, that requirement and others in a bill signed March 30 will take effect 90 days after the legislative session ends, which is likely to fall between the primary and general election.

Monday’s update also would make a technical change that appears aimed at addressing concerns that the bill could potentially require hundreds of thousands of people who registered before 2005 to provide proof of their citizenship.

Arizona is the only state that requires documentary proof of citizenship when registering to vote. A 2013 Supreme Court decision on Arizona’s law said anyone who registers using a federal voter registration form, which does not require documentation of citizenship, must be allowed to vote in federal elections.

The controversial new law seeks to block those voters from voting for president or by mail. It also requires all voters to provide proof of their address when they register.

The Legislature’s own lawyers say much of the new law is unconstitutional. Still, voting rights advocates worry it is an attempt to get back in front of the now more conservative Supreme Court.

The precise impact is a matter of dispute. Supporters say it affects only the roughly 31,500 registered voters who have not shown proof of citizenship. Voting advocates say as originally written, it’s vague and could go much further, affecting hundreds of thousands of people who haven’t recently updated their voter registration or driver’s license.

Monday’s update was approved in a 32-25 vote, with Democratic Rep. Amish Shah joining all Republicans in support.

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