Free Speech For People has joined the Campaign Legal Center as part of the legal team on a lawsuit challenging two new voter suppression laws in Arizona: H.B. 2492, which imposes discriminatory burdens on voters with new documentary proof of residence and citizenship requirements; and H.B. 2243, which requires local election officials remove voters from registration rolls using stale, inaccurate and unreliable data about a voters’ residency and citizenship status. In March 2022, the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed an initial lawsuit challenging H.B. 2492, on behalf of several Arizona public interest organizations, and Free Speech For People joined CLC in  filing an amended complaint in federal court on July 18, 2022.

The updated complaint adds new plaintiffs to the lawsuit, including Arizona Coalition for Change and two groups representing Native voters in Arizona: The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona and the San Carlos Apache Tribe.

Native voters residing on reservations often lack any residential numbered street address, making it nearly impossible to produce the documentary proof of residence H.B. 2492 requires. Arizona previously agreed to modify their voter ID procedures to allow Native voters to use their tribal identification to vote, even if it does not include a residential numbered street address, but no such carve out was included in H.B. 2492. 

The amended complaint broadens the scope of the lawsuit to challenge H.B. 2243 in addition to H.B. 2492 and adds new claims that the laws violate the National Voter Registration Act and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Taken together with the burdens imposed by H.B. 2492, these two bills will make voter registration rolls significantly less reliable, result in the wrongful cancellation and removal of already registered Arizona voters, subject naturalized U.S. citizens to criminal investigation and prosecution simply for trying to exercise their freedom to vote, and pose near insurmountable obstacles for many Native voters seeking to register.

The amended complaint also alleges that the laws violate the National Voter Registration Act and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In addition to CLC and Free Speech For People, the legal team includes: the San Carlos Apache Tribe Department of Justice, the law firm of Mayer Brown LLP and the law firm of Barton Mendez Soto PLLC. 

Our democracy depends on secure and inclusive elections, but Arizona’s H.B. 2492 and H.B. 2243 do not make our elections any safer. Instead, these anti-voter laws discriminate against Latino and Native voters in Arizona by making it more difficult for them to exercise their freedom to vote.

“ITCA recently hosted a celebration in recognition of the 74th anniversary of the Native Right to vote in Arizona. Tribal members can celebrate the right to vote for 74 years and then have new hurdles and impositions placed in our path in 2022 by the passage of anti-voting legislation such as HB2492,” said Bernadine Burnette, President of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona. “We understand that this is an effort to disempower our voices. However, we have the legacy of those who went before us who fought to secure the Native right to vote in Arizona and we will stand strong to protect it.”

“This Arizona law is designed to unconstitutionally intimidate and discourage tribal members from registering to vote, even though they are eligible. This is an illegal attempt by the state to suppress the Native vote after the high turnout in the 2020 election decisively impacted federal election results,” said Terry Rambler, Chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe. “The law illegally requires tribal members who live on the reservation to provide a numbered street address when many live at homes without such an address. It also fails to recognize that many eligible voters may live with friends and extended family and are not officially listed as a resident of the home.”

“It is outrageous that our legislature has responded to the successful 2020 election by passing legislation aimed at depriving Arizona citizens—both new and long-term registered voters—of the right to vote, denying them even the right to be registered to vote in violation of federal law and the U.S. Constitution,” said Reginald Bolding, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of Arizona Coalition for Change. “While the legislature has failed us by making baseless claims of fraud to support its voter suppression efforts, Arizona Coalition for Change and our fellow plaintiffs in this case are committed to protecting newly naturalized citizens, voters of color, and indeed all voters by challenging in court HB 2492 and HB 2293.”

Read the amended complaint here.