Did Maricopa County deny Arizona residents the right to vote?

A leading Democrat in the county believes as many as 58,000 citizens may have been denied a vote in November

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published May 2, 2017 2:51PM (EDT)

 (Getty/Darren Hauck)
(Getty/Darren Hauck)

President Donald Trump's claim that voter fraud cost him the popular vote is almost certainly spurious, but one elected Democrat in Arizona is convinced that misplaced efforts to prevent voter fraud have actually cost real citizens their right to vote.

Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes is hiring new employees to research the citizenship status of individuals whose voter registration attempts were denied, according to a report by The Arizona Republic. They are going to go through the Arizona Motor Vehicle Department, which verifies citizenship for driver's licenses, and have been instructed by Fontes to add prospective voters into the state's database if they find proof that the individual in question is in fact a citizen.

As Fontes told The Arizona Republic: "We are not in the business of creating obstacles to citizens to exercise their constitutional rights."

Fontes said he was inspired to do this after discovering up to 100,000 state-issued voter-registration forms that had been left in files for more than a decade but had not been saved in the voter database. Because Arizona law requires voter applicants to include proof of citizenship in their registration forms, Fontes is concerned that up to 58,000 citizens in Maricopa County may have been unjustly denied the right to vote.

That said, as Republican election attorney Joe Kanefield told The Arizona Republic, Fontes may not have the legal right to simply add these individuals to the rolls. The law in the state makes it clear that "if a voter-registration form is received and does not contain evidence of citizenship, the registrar shall reject it," Kanefield explained.


[jwplayer file="http://media.salon.com/2017/05/e94e92ce600a4ce4809d329df298c921.mp4" image="http://media.salon.com/2017/05/1675b1060592f0ce560d425f1529ce41_1.jpg"][/jwplayer]

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

MORE FROM Matthew Rozsa

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Arizona Maricopa County Voter Fraud