PHOENIX – The Arizona Legislature gave final approval late Thursday night to a proposal that would require President Barack Obama and other presidential candidates to prove they are U.S. citizens before their names can appear on the state’s ballot.
Arizona would become the first state to require such proof if Gov. Jan Brewer signs the measure into law.
Republican Rep. Carl Seel of Phoenix, the author of the bill, said the bill wasn’t about opposition to Obama. “This bill is about the integrity of our elections,” Seel said.
Thirteen other states have considered similar proposals this year. The proposals were defeated in Arkansas, Connecticut, Maine and Montana.
The bill won final approval from the state House in a 40-16 vote.
So-called “birthers” have contended since the last presidential election that Obama is ineligible to hold the nation’s highest elected office because, they argue, he was actually born in Kenya, his father’s homeland. The Constitution said a person must be a “natural-born citizen” to be eligible for the presidency.
Hawaii officials have repeatedly confirmed Obama’s citizenship, and his Hawaiian birth certificates have been made public.
“It’s a fringe issue in my view, and it’s going to cause people to look again at Arizona and say what’s all this craziness going on there,” said Democratic Rep. Daniel Patterson of Tucson, an opponent of the bill.