The Department of Justice is suing the state of Arizona with the intent of blocking a law that would oblige residents to provide proof of citizenship in order to vote in federal elections.
In its lawsuit, DOJ argues that Arizona's H.B. 2492 bill — which takes effect in January — is a ''textbook violation of the National Voter Registration Act,'' or NVRA, which dates back to 1993.
DOJ also argues that the Arizona law violates terms of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
''For nearly three decades, the National Voter Registration Act has helped to move states in the right direction by eliminating unnecessary requirements that have historically made it harder for eligible voters to access the registration rolls,'' said Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, in a statement.
She added, ''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.''
The Arizona law could potentially purge tens of thousands of people from voting rolls.
The state has a two-pronged system regarding voter eligibility after a 2004 ballot measure empowered Arizona officials to ask for proof of citizenship for anyone registering to vote after 2005.
As DOJ attests, though, the new Arizona law would effectively close the above loophole, eliminating those who had been grandfathered in from the 2005 law.
According to election data, there are some 11,600 federal-only voters in Arizona who have not provided the proof of citizenship necessary to vote in state elections. But NPR estimates that as many as 192,000 voters could be removed from rolls if the new Arizona law takes effect.
DOJ also argues that H.B. 2492 also runs afoul of a 2013 Supreme Court ruling stemming from another Arizona lawsuit, which dictated that state officials could not impose proof-of-citizenship requirements on those who register to vote, using the federal form.
In a call with reporters, Assistant AG Clarke said: ''Arizona is a repeat offender when it comes to attempts to make it harder to register to vote.
''Arizona's own nonpartisan legislative council warns legislators that the NVRA preempts HB 2492's documentary proof of citizenship requirements for applicants completing the federal form who seek to vote in federal elections,'' she said.
Clarke added, ''Nonetheless, the Legislature ignored these warnings and enacted HB 2492 anyway.''
In March, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, signed the law in question, deeming it necessary for ''prohibiting any attempt to illegally cast a vote.''
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