Arizona Legislature OKs Presidential ‘Birther’ Bill

Alia Beard Rau
The Arizona Republic
April 15, 2011

The Arizona Legislature has become the first in the nation to pass a measure requiring presidential candidates to provide proof of citizenship to get on the state’s ballot.

Gov. Jan Brewer will then have five days to sign it, veto it or do nothing and allow it to become law.

If Brewer chooses to veto the bill, Republican lawmakers could attempt an override vote. The bill would become law if two-thirds of legislators supported the override.

“It’s essential that we bring back the integrity to the office,” Rep. Judy Burges, a Republican from Skull Valley, Ariz., said during a recent debate on one of the so-called “birther” measures.

The bill would require presidential and vice presidential candidates to provide the Arizona secretary of state with documents proving they are natural-born citizens.

Those documents can be either a long-form birth certificate or two or more other permitted documents, including an early baptismal certificate, circumcision certificate, hospital birth record, postpartum medical record signed by the person who delivered the child or an early census record.
If a candidate failed to submit required documents or the secretary of state deemed them insufficient, the candidate would not be listed on Arizona’s ballot.

The bill has come before the Legislature several times in the past two years in various forms and has been proposed so far unsuccessfully in several other states in recent years.

It stems from questions about President Obama’s origin. Hawaii officials have repeatedly confirmed Obama’s birth in their state but some continue to believe that he was born in Kenya, his father’s homeland.

Rep. Ruben Gallego, a Phoenix Democrat, voted against the bill and said he was embarrassed by his fellow lawmakers.

“Arizona is the first state to pass a birther bill. We look pretty much backward,” Gallego said. “You might as well change Arizona to Alabama.”

Supporters of the bill said it had nothing to do with Obama but is a way to assure Arizona voters that presidential candidates meet federal requirements for the position.

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