Justice Department sues Arizona for requiring proof of citizenship to vote in presidential elections

The law was set to take effect in January 2023.

July 5, 2022, 4:33 PM

The Justice Department has filed suit against Arizona challenging its recently enacted voting law that requires proof of citizenship in order to vote in presidential elections.

The lawsuit contends that certain restrictions in Arizona's House Bill 2492 directly violate Section 6 of the National Voter Registration Act and Section 101 of the Civil Rights Act.

The Supreme Court previously rejected an effort by Arizona in 2013 to require its residents to provide proof of citizenship in order to participate in federal elections, though after President Joe Biden's victory against Donald Trump in 2020 the state quickly sought to implement a similar mandate in passing House Bill 2492.

"Arizona has passed a law that turns the clock back on progress by imposing unlawful and unnecessary requirements that would block eligible voters from the registration rolls for certain federal elections," Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in a statement Tuesday announcing the lawsuit.

Gov. Doug Ducey signed the bill into law on March 30.

"Election integrity means counting every lawful vote and prohibiting any attempt to illegally cast a vote," Ducey wrote in a letter at the time he signed the bill. "H.B. 2492 is a balanced approach that honors Arizona's history of making voting accessible without sacrificing security in our elections."

Voters wait to cast their ballots at Marquee Theatre on Nov. 3, 2020, in Tempe, Ariz.
Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images, FILE

Republicans have a slight majority in both the state Senate and House of Representatives.

The Justice Department's lawsuit asks for a federal judge to prohibit several provisions of HB 2492 from being enforced.

In a press release, the Justice Department notes the new law with violate the Civil Rights Act "by requiring election officials to reject voter registration forms based on errors or omissions that are not material to establishing a voter’s eligibility to cast a ballot."

Arizona requires voters to prove they are a U.S. citizen when they register to vote -- the only state to do so -- by providing a government-issued identification, like a driver's license, tribal ID or passport. The 2013 Supreme Court ruling allowed the requirement for state elections, but Arizona cannot require proof of citizenship for federal elections, like president.

Arizona is one of the states where Trump has falsely contended he won in 2020. Biden defeated Trump by about 10,000 votes. A GOP-led review of the vote tally in Maricopa County, the state's largest, reaffirmed Biden's victory, and even increased his lead by a slight amount.

ABC News' Mark Osborne contributed to this report.

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