Our View: A proposal to compel the Arizona secretary of state to independently verify the eligibility of every presidential candidate is downright laughable, considering just how little the state has cared about this issue in the past.
A proposal to compel the Arizona secretary of state to independently verify the eligibility of every presidential candidate is downright laughable, considering just how little the state has cared about this issue in the past.
Capitol Media Services reported earlier this week that Rep. Judy Burges, R-Skull Valley, wants to require any presidential candidate to prove he or she is a "natural born citizen," as outlined in the Constitution. Even more, the secretary of state would have to certify with independent research that each candidate is eligible, or refuse to add their names to election ballots.
This would be a dramatic about-face, as Arizona has some of the easiest rules in the country for someone to appear on a presidential primary ballot. Essentially, candidates sign a form pledging they meet the constitutional standards and that they are registered with the appropriate political party.
Candidates don't have to pay any substantial fees, demonstrate local support or have any kind of actual campaign. There certainly is no effort on the part of state officials to verify a candidate's eligibility. That's why 24 different names appeared on separate ballots for both Republicans and Democrats in Arizona's 2008 presidential primary. For every John McCain, there was a Sean "Cf" Murphy, a Rick Outzen and other people voters had never heard about.
Burges isn't motivated by any noble intent to clean up Arizona's participation in presidential elections. Her comments to Capitol Media Services make it clear she's sympathetic to the conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama isn't a natural born citizen, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Obama's situation highlights why the state Legislature should be extremely cautious if it wades into this issue. Dozens of lawsuits were filed around the country, each raising even crazier explanations for how he couldn't possibly be born in Hawaii or he somehow renounced his citizenship by attending elementary school in Indonesia. Every single challenge has been dismissed. But the issue still hasn't disappeared after a year into Obama's presidency.
We wonder how much it would cost the secretary of state in time and money to independently certify every candidate that might come forward in 2012?