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Arizona AG Horne wants commission to OK voter proof

PHOENIX -- Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne wants a federal commission to approve a state provision requiring that those registering to vote using a federal form provide proof of citizenship and warned Wednesday that he will sue if the commission doesn't act.

The U.S. Supreme Court in June ruled that Arizona could not require such proof from people using the federal form. But the high court said Arizona could ask the Election Assistance Commission to approve the citizenship proof requirement. If the commission refused, Arizona could ask a federal court to overturn the commission's decision.

Horne released a letter to the commission on Wednesday saying he would sue if they didn't allow the proof requirement by Aug. 19. He noted that Justice Antonin Scalia's opinion pointed out that the commission approved similar requirements in Louisiana.

``To grant Louisiana what is denied to Arizona, would evidence inexplicable hostility to the citizens of Arizona, who passed Proposition 200 overwhelmingly,'' Horne wrote, referring to the measure requiring certain identification to vote.

Louisiana's request was much different and only required information that was already required at the polls for those using the federal form, said Nina Perales, vice president of litigation for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, a lawyer on the case decided by the Supreme Court. Arizona is asking for much more, proof of citizenship, she said.

``That is very different from Arizona asking for documentation that is never going to be required under federal law,'' Perales said.

Arizona was rebuffed by the commission after Proposition 200 was passed, when then-Secretary of State Jan Brewer asked for permission to require citizenship proof with the federal forms. The commission told Brewer the state could not require that proof to use the federal form.

``I think that the EAC is going to respond with the same decision that it gave Arizona back in 2005, that the EAC will tell Arizona that it cannot impose these document requirements because they conflict with the National Voter Registration Act,'' Perales said.

Most Arizonans use a state form that requires proof of citizenship as defined by the 2004 proposition, which includes an Arizona driver's license issued after 1996, a U.S. birth certificate, a passport or other similar document. The Arizona law required similar proof before the state would approve the federal registration application.

But the high court's 7-2 ruling held that states were required to accept the federal form and could not adopt their own rules on their own.

Election Assistance Commission staff said Horne's letter hadn't arrived so they could not comment. The commission currently has no active commissioners. The four commissioners are supposed to be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, but the last two left in 2011, according to the panel's website.

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