It is no secret that an overwhelming number of Americans believe that only U.S. citizens should be allowed to vote in our elections. It arguably is and ought to be the first and primary qualification to vote. But what good is that requirement if it isn’t verified? In other words, without proof of citizenship, we are relying on a simple stroke of a pen or pencil on a registration form, checking a small box attesting to citizenship.

That’s why in 2004 Arizona voters approved a measure to require proof of citizenship before registering to vote. But, in the 20 years since, that requirement has been whittled away and now there are tens of thousands of people voting in Arizona elections (often referred to as “Federal only” voters) without ever having provided evidence of their citizenship.

In response to this explosion of ‘Federal Only’ voters, the Arizona legislature passed two landmark bills, HB2492 and HB2243, to require proof of citizenship and regular, enhanced voter roll maintenance to ensure only eligible individuals are registering and voting in our elections.

What happened next shouldn’t surprise anyone that has watched the left fight every reasonable voter integrity measure around the country. As soon as both bills were signed into law, a dozen liberal organizations and the Biden Justice Department sued in federal court, claiming that the measures were unconstitutional, illegal, and (of course) racist.

The case was given to Bill Clinton appointed judge Susan Bolton, and after a year of litigation, she issued a confusing, disjointed two-part ruling that is destined for appeal. And while a few positives can be gleaned from the decision, the bad and ugly from the liberal opinion far outweighed the good.

The Bad

Bolton had already ruled against many of the provisions last September, including, most importantly, blocking Arizona from rejecting state voter registration forms not accompanied with proof of citizenship (even though the U.S. Supreme Court clearly stated that we could) and from preventing “Federal Only Voters” from voting in presidential elections and by mail.

In this new ruling, Bolton also ruled that the requirement that a registrant include their place of birth on their voter registration form (currently optional), which would have helped verify the citizenship status of voters, violates the materiality provision of the Civil Rights Act. In other words, although the U.S. Supreme Court just a decade ago said we are free to design our own form and request the information we determine is necessary, Bolton decided for us, preventing us from collecting critical information from registrants to verify citizenship status.

Residency might be second only to citizenship as a qualification to vote: you have to be a citizen, and you must live here to vote in our elections. Pretty basic. But Bolton also decided that requiring registrants using the state form to prove their residency violates the National Voter Registration Act, requiring them to be registered as Federal Only Voters.

The Ugly

After the liberal group plaintiffs tried to go on a fishing expedition last year, serving the Club with subpoenas to access years of our communications, Bolton spent six pages determining whether the laws were passed with discriminatory intent. Three of those pages were spent on the Club’s involvement in getting these bills passed, where she described us as a “conservative lobbying group” (without identifying the nonprofit plaintiffs likewise as “liberal lobbying groups”). Even worse, she wrote that our previous articles amounted to racial animosity. Her evidence? In some of them we argued the bills would help stop “illegals” from voting. And, according to Bolton, the word “illegals” is a “code word” that “may demonstrate discriminatory intent.”

Her evidence for that? The testimony of one individual, former state senator Martín Quezada, whose nomination by Hobbs to head the Registrar of Contractors was rejected by the Arizona Senate last year. That was enough for a federal judge, in a federal court order, to allege our advocacy for the security of elections was fueled, at least in part, with coded racist language.

This claim is even more absurd now given that just last week President Biden (whose DOJ is a lead plaintiff against these bills) used the “coded word” “illegals” during his State of the Union address to Congress. Would Judge Bolton say that President Biden was using “coded” racist language too?

The Good

Even though Bolton thinks our advocacy was rooted in racism, it wasn’t enough to find that the legislature acted with discriminatory intent, because we didn’t, and they didn’t. And that alone is a huge win as this case moves to an appeal, because it was the bulk of the argument from the “liberal lobbying” group plaintiffs.

Additionally, many of the voter list maintenance provisions were upheld, meaning Arizona counties will be checking the voter rolls against several databases regularly and removing those not eligible to vote in our elections. Individuals who obtain a driver’s license in another state, those who attest on a jury questionnaire that they are not a U.S. citizen or are not a resident, SAVE (the federal immigration database), and more, will begin to clean up our voter list.

Finally, before the case moved to trial, the RNC intervened, as did Senate President Warren Petersen and House Speaker Ben Toma on behalf of the legislature, allowing for an appeal all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary to uphold these commonsense laws before the 2024 election. And we will stand with them as it does.

Help Protect Freedom in Arizona by Joining Our Grassroots Network

Arizona needs to have a unified voice promoting economic freedom and prosperity, and the Free Enterprise Club is committed to making that happen. But we can’t do it alone. We need YOU!

Join our FREE Grassroots Action List to stay up to date on the latest battles against big government and how YOU can help influence crucial bills at the Arizona State Legislature.