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Arizona Election Law May Enable Non-Citizens To Vote In 2024 Presidential Election, Experts Warn

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James Lynch Investigative Reporter
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One of the most important states in the 2024 presidential election has a loophole in its election procedures that could allow non-citizens to cast federal election ballots, experts told the Daily Caller.

Democratic Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes crafted the state’s Election Procedures Manual (EPM) to permit individuals whose citizenship cannot be verified to register as a “federal-only” voter and cast ballots in upcoming elections. (RELATED: Democrats Shouted That MAGA Secretaries Of State Would Rig Elections — Then Maine Happened)

READ THE MANUAL:

“An otherwise eligible registrant who does not submit DPOC (proof of citizenship) and whose U.S. citizenship cannot be verified via AZMVD records or other record in the statewide voter registration database is registered as a ‘federal-only’ voter. A ‘federal-only’ voter is eligible to vote solely in races for federal office in Arizona (including the Presidential Preference Election (PPE)),” the EPM says on page three of its first chapter.

Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, told the Daily Caller he believes Arizona’s two-tiered voter registration system could enable illegal migrants to vote in the upcoming elections.

“I think it’s absolutely a possibility because if you aren’t requiring proof of citizenship, you’re simply going on people’s word that oh yeah I’m a U.S. citizen, you’re going to get aliens who register and who vote,” von Spakovsky told the Caller.

“The Justice Department, they don’t prosecute these cases, even though it’s a felony under federal law for an alien to register and vote,” he continued. “Aliens have an incentive, a voter registration card, which you get when you register, that’s a gateway for getting other kinds of ID.”

He referenced the I-9 form employers are mandated by the federal government to fill out and the fact that it allows individuals to use a voter registration card to establish their identity. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Terrorist Caught Illegally Crossing The Border Was Allowed To Roam Free For Nearly A Year, Memo Says)

Ken Cuccinelli, a former top official at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and national chairman of the Election Transparency Initiative (ETI) expressed similar concerns in a statement to the Caller.

“Adrian Fontes could have used his elections procedures manual to help close the decade-old loophole regarding non-citizen voting in Arizona elections. Instead, he made it even worse — allowing non-citizens and individuals who have failed to prove their U.S. citizenship to vote in the Presidential Preference Election in 2024,” Cuccinelli said.

“Meaning, the same illegal aliens who have flooded across our open border at unprecedented levels in recent years could help decide the winner of the state’s Republican presidential primary in March. Because the manual is exempt from legislative review, we should expect nothing less from the most radical, far-left administration in the history of Arizona state government.”

The EPM cites the 2013 Supreme Court ruling in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, a case brought by left-wing organizations challenging Arizona’s law requiring verification of citizenship in order to register to vote. The justices ruled in a 7-2 decision that the National Voter Registration Act preempted Arizona’s citizenship verification law, leading to the creation of the state’s two-tiered voting system.

“The National Voter Registration Act requires that States ‘accept and use’ voter registration forms created by the federal government. The federal form has a question about citizenship, but it only requires that a voter applicant swear under penalty of perjury that he is a citizen. It does not require the person to provide any documentary proof. Arizona law does require documentary proof of citizenship to register to vote. The Supreme Court has held that, for federal races, Arizona is required to accept the federal voter registration form and cannot impose any additional requirements, such as asking for proof of citizenship,” America First Legal (AFL) Senior Counsel James Rogers told the Caller.

“For state and local races, however, Arizona still has the power to require proof of citizenship. The result is that, in Arizona, voters have two options for registering to vote. Their first option is to fill out the state voter registration form, provide proof of citizenship, and then be able to cast a vote in federal, state, and local races. Their second option is that they can fill out the federal form, avoid providing proof of citizenship, and then only be able to cast a vote in federal races. This bifurcated system is unique to Arizona. More than 20,000 voters in Arizona have chosen to submit federal-only forms. These 20,000 people have thus avoided the requirement to prove their citizenship, but also given up the chance to vote in state or local races. It would be interesting to understand why these people have chosen to file federal-only forms, but it does not appear that anyone has ever investigated why,” he added.

PHOENIX, AZ – NOVEMBER 14: Newly elected Arizona Secretary of State, Adrian Fontes looks on during a speech at American Legion Post 41 on November 14, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. Fontes defeated Republican candidate Mark Finchem, who has claimed widespread election fraud in the state. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

Individuals will be registered as “federal only” voters if they submit a federal voter registration form and do not have the documentation required for verifying citizenship. Without verifying citizenship, a person cannot become registered for Arizona’s state-level elections.

If the County Recorder conducts a background check and cannot verify the registrant’s citizenship, the registrant “is entitled to be registered as a ‘federal-only’ voter based on the registrant’s sworn statement on the registration form that the registrant is a U.S. citizen. An otherwise valid voter registration form submitted to the County Recorder, but without accompanying DPOC, shall be accepted, entered into the database, and registered for federal elections,” the EPM states on page eight.

If the Arizona Department of Transportation, Motor Vehicle Department (AZMVD) records do not show the individual has a non-citizen authorized presence designation, such as an “F-Type” driver’s license, the person will be registered if they submit a sworn statement.

Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs and Attorney General Kris Mayes approved Fontes’ new EPM for Arizona’s elections in December. The EPM was last updated in 2019 when Hobbs was secretary of state and contained similar provisions about the “federal-only” voters.

In the 2022 midterm elections, Hobbs defeated Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake 50.3% to 49.7%, a margin of roughly 17,000 votes. Fontes became secretary of state after winning 52.4% to 47.6% over Republican candidate Mark Finchem in the most recent midterm elections.

In the 2020 presidential election, President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump 49.36% to 49.06% in Arizona, a roughly 10,000 vote margin.

Trump is expected to be the 2024 Republican presidential nominee and run against Biden again in the November election. General election polls conducted in December show Trump leading Biden in the state, according to FiveThirtyEight.

LUKEVILLE, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 07: Immigrants from the west African nation of Guinea strike a celebratory pose after successfully crossing the U.S.-Mexico border on December 07, 2023 in Lukeville, Arizona. A surge of immigrants illegally passing through openings cut by smugglers in the border wall has overwhelmed U.S. immigration authorities, causing them to shut down several international ports of entry so that officers can help process the new arrivals. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Arizona’s illegal immigrant population peaked at an estimated 560,000 in 2008 before dropping by approximately 230,000 due to legislative measures designed to crack down on illegal migration, the Arizona Republic reported. The Migration Policy Institute estimated Arizona’s undocumented population to be 273,000 based on 2019 data.

An average of more than 1,300 migrants are crossing the state’s border each day as the Biden administration oversees record numbers of illegal migrants entering the U.S., NBC News reported in August.

Hobbs deployed the state’s national guard to the border in December to assist with stopping human trafficking and fentanyl smuggling after she requested reinforcements from the Biden administration and did not receive assistance. The federal government temporarily closed the Lukeville, Arizona, port of entry in December because of the illegal immigration surge and re-opened it in January, the Arizona Republic reported.

Border Patrol apprehended an estimated 18,900 migrants during the week of Dec. 8, the Border Patrol’s Tucson, Arizona, section chief said. Border Patrol agents from across the country were brought in to help process migrants “virtually” crossing Arizona’s border due to the migration spike, the Daily Caller News Foundation first reported.

Encounters at the southern border topped 2 million over the past two fiscal years, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) data shows.

“Non-citizens should not be registering and voting in American elections, period. Laws that require proof of citizenship to register and vote protect the integrity of elections. Unfortunately, liberal politicians and left-wing activists routinely attack the laws and safeguards that help states identify and stop non-citizen voting,” Honest Elections Project Executive Director Jason Snead told the Caller.

The Daily Caller reached out to Fontes’ office to ask for clarity on the loophole and whether or not it would enable non-citizens to vote in Arizona. They did not respond.