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Challenger Charges AZ GOP Sec. of State of Siding with Dems To Loosen Voter ID Requirements

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A Republican businessman challenging Arizona’s GOP Secretary of State Michele Reagan in next month’s primary election is charging the incumbent with “abrogating” her duty by entering into a legal settlement that no longer requires those registering to vote to provide documentary proof of their U.S. citizenship.

Secretary of State candidate Steve Gaynor strongly disagrees with Reagan’s decision, saying it is not her role as a member of the executive branch to be changing the state’s election laws, and in doing so making it easier for non-citizens to vote.

“The executive branch does not have the right to supersede or overturn the law,” he told The Western Journal.

“To just give up on the documentary proof of citizenship requirement to me was inexplicable, indefensible, and an abrogation of her duty as secretary of state,” Gaynor added.

Reagan denies Gaynor’s charges, claiming her actions strengthened Arizona’s verification process of U.S. citizenship.

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In 2004, Arizonans passed Proposition 200 requiring those registering to vote in the Grand Canyon State to show proof of citizenship, such as an Arizona driver’s license, a U.S. birth certificate, a passport or similar document, CBS News reported.

A legal challenge followed, which went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and resulted in a 2013 ruling barring the state from rejecting federal form applicants without documentary proof of citizenship from federal elections. However, the Court allowed Arizona to use a state registration form that requires documentary proof of citizenship to be eligible to vote in federal, state and local elections.

The federal form only requires voter registration applicants to swear or attest they are U.S. citizens in order to vote in federal elections.

Last month, Reagan entered into a consent decree in response to a lawsuit filed in federal court by The League of United Latin American Citizens and the Arizona Students’ Association late last year.

Do you think the secretary of state should have defended Arizona’s ID requirements?

The plaintiffs charged both the state of Arizona and Maricopa County — the state’s most populous county which encompasses Phoenix — with disenfranchising voters.

The decree provides that those who register to vote, whether using either the state or federal forms, will be eligible to vote in federal elections as long as they attest that they are citizens.

Further for those who do not provide proof of citizenship with their Arizona registration form, the decree requires county recorders to access Arizona’s Motor Vehicle Department’s database in an effort to ascertain applicants’ citizenship status.

If citizenship can be confirmed, the applicant will be registered to vote in federal, state and local elections.

Gaynor said Reagan should have defended Proposition 200 in court and his concern is the decree she entered into creates a new avenue for abuse.

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He told The Western Journal that there are currently between 7,000 to 10,000 federal-election only voters in the state, meaning they did not show a proof of citizenship in order to register.

Gaynor expects that number to go up exponentially now that those registering to vote in all Arizona’s elections, using the state form, will automatically be eligible to vote in federal elections by default, with no documentary proof of citizenship.

Though named as a defendant, Maricopa County Recorder Democrat Adrian Fontes fully supported the LULAC lawsuit and praised Reagan for entering into the settlement. Fontes ran on the issue of voter suppression in 2016.

“The LULAC v. Reagan settlement vindicates the policies of this office in part because it upholds the work that we have been doing to register Arizonans to vote when we are able to confirm their citizenship,” said Fontes in a statement released after he and Reagan signed off on the consent decree.

“I am pleased that the Secretary of State’s Office came to the same conclusions about the voter suppression created by the bifurcated registration system. It did not serve the voters in this county or the state,” he added.

Fontes stated he found 96,000 rejected voter registration forms in a warehouse after taking office.

“The burden was left on those applicants to repeatedly show proof of citizenship, even though that information was readily available to the County Recorder’s Office,” he claimed.

The Campaign Legal Center, which supported the plaintiffs, put the number at about 26,000 Maricopa County voters who had been disenfranchised by the proof of citizenship requirement, the Arizona Republic reported.

Reagan spoke in very positive terms about the consent decree in a press release last month.

“We’ve worked hard to settle this lawsuit and are extremely pleased with the result,” Reagan said. “The registration system will now verify the eligibility of each and every person who has yet to provide evidence of citizenship.”

“While the Supreme Court has ordered Arizona to allow people who have not provided such proof of citizenship to vote in federal elections, it’s a relief the system will now proactively verify eligibility for all applicants,” she added.

“We’ve always said that it should be easy to vote and hard to cheat,” Reagan stated. “I’m proud to say this compromise achieves both.”

In an email to The Western Journal, Reagan’s spokesman Matt Roberts stated that the decree strengthens the voter registration system.

“In the LULAC case Secretary Reagan has finally accomplished the objective of Proposition 200 – to ensure that only U.S. Citizens are voting in any and every election held here in Arizona,” he wrote.

Gaynor is not buying it.

“In her press release, (Reagan) calls it a compromise. I don’t see a compromise in any area, because she capitulated to every demand that the plaintiffs made.”

Gaynor noted in a prepared statement from his campaign that Reagan asserted in the consent decree that Arizona law did not violate the Constitution and that the state is constitutionally permitted to require documentary proof of citizenship.

“So there was no valid reason to give in to LULAC’s demands,” Gaynor stated.

“She said she did so ‘to make it as easy as possible for Arizona’s citizens to vote.’ This is not a valid reason to overturn Arizona law.”

The challenger promised, “If elected, I will investigate every avenue to overturn what she has done.”

Late last month, Gaynor targeted thousands of potential primary voters with a robocall hitting Reagan for her decision.

Arizona’s primary election for state and federal offices is slated for Tuesday, August 28.

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Randy DeSoto has written more than 2,000 articles for The Western Journal since he joined the company in 2015. He is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."
Randy DeSoto is the senior staff writer for The Western Journal. He wrote and was the assistant producer of the documentary film "I Want Your Money" about the perils of Big Government, comparing the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Randy is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths," which addresses how leaders have appealed to beliefs found in the Declaration of Independence at defining moments in our nation's history. He has been published in several political sites and newspapers.

Randy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in political science and Regent University School of Law with a juris doctorate.
Birthplace
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Nationality
American
Honors/Awards
Graduated dean's list from West Point
Education
United States Military Academy at West Point, Regent University School of Law
Books Written
We Hold These Truths
Professional Memberships
Virginia and Pennsylvania state bars
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment, Faith




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