Tom Horne

Submitted Photo

PHOENIX - Arizona is renewing its bid to let election officials demand proof of citizenship from everyone registering to vote, paving the way for yet another lawsuit.

In a letter to Alice Miller, acting executive director of the Election Assistance Commission, state Attorney General Tom Horne demanded she allow Arizona to require proof of citizenship from those registering to vote using a commission-designed form by Aug. 19 or he will sue.

Nina Perales, an attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said Horne should not expect approval.

She said the commission staff rejected an identical request in 2005, a decision left intact by a 2-2 vote of the panel itself. And Perales insisted nothing has changed since then.

If that happens, Horne said he will seek court review.

The fight concerns a 2004 voter-approved measure that requires both proof of citizenship to register and identification to cast a ballot at the polls. Foes challenged both.

A trial judge sided with the state on the ID at polling places requirement. Foes of the Arizona law never appealed that decision.

They also did not dispute Arizona can demand citizenship proof from those who register using a state-designed form, or while renewing a driver's license.

But they pointed out the National Voter Registration Act requires states to "accept and use" a federal form authorized by Congress and designed by the commission. That form requires only that applicants sign an affidavit swearing they are citizens and eligible to vote.

The Supreme Court, in a 7-2 ruling, sided with challengers. But the justices did say Arizona remains free to repeat its request to the commission to add the proof of citizenship requirement to the federal form it designed for Arizona.

Secretary of State Ken Bennett made such a request within days of the Supreme Court ruling. With no response yet, Horne demanded a response, and soon.

One problem Horne may have is the four-member panel has no members. The president and Congress have not filled the vacancies.

Horne said he is unconcerned, saying that Miller is empowered to act.

Horne said he will go to court if the state is rebuffed again.