By Byron Shehee
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Secretary of State Jim Bennett recently said the State will move forward with implementing citizenship requirements in order to vote in Alabama.
The Alabama Legislature passed the Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer Citizen Protection Act in 2011. This law requires a new voter to provide proof of citizenship before registration can be completed. Bennett said, “Now that the US Senate has finally confirmed long-vacant Commissioner positions on the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), those officials are now in place to grant our request that all voter registration applicants supply documentation of US citizenship in accordance with State law.
“There are different approaches we can take depending on the response we receive from the EAC. Alabama is a sovereign state and our Legislature has determined that in the future, people registering to vote must prove that they are indeed U.S. citizens.”
At the heart of the matter is whether the EAC must amend federal registration forms for states that have strengthened voter I.D. laws to require proof of citizenship.
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled On May 19, 2014 that the EAC was not required to change Kansas and Arizona’s voter registration instructions requiring proof of citizenship. However, Alabama is not subject to rulings originating in that judicial circuit. Regarding the 10th Circuit’s ruling Bennett said, “I hope that the US Supreme Court will reverse the decision of the 10th Circuit.” Bennett further stated, “Non-citizens should not be allowed to vote in any election. It makes little sense to allow non-citizens to vote and influence national and state public policy and decide who will become the decision makers. I guess they could vote in their own countries as well, kind of like global voters.”
According to Bennett, future Alabama voter registrants will be asked to provide documentation such as a birth certificate, Star Alabama driver’s license or non-driver ID card, passport, naturalization documents, or other documents showing US citizenship.
It seems inevitable that the US Supreme Court will eventually rule on the issue of whether a state legislature will be allowed to demand additional requirements proving citizenship to be met before a new voter’s registration can be completed. Proponents of the law may claim that requiring a voter to be a citizen is a sufficient and more than adequate reason, while those opposing the new requirements may believe the new laws not only place additional requirements on people here illegally but may disenfranchise some citizens by placing too much of an burden on them when registering to vote.