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" contend 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. Even though the courts have rebuffed lawsuits challenging Obama's eligibility, the issue hasn't gone away.
"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.
The Arizona proposal would require political parties and presidential candidates to hand in affidavits stating a candidate's citizenship and age and to provide the candidate's birth certificate and a sworn statement saying where the candidate has lived for 14 years.
If candidates don't have a copy of their birth certificates, they could meet the requirement by providing baptismal or circumcision certificates, hospital birth records and other documents. An excerpt from the bill on what contenders would be required to provide:
1. A CERTIFIED COPY OF THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE'S LONG FORM BIRTH CERTIFICATE THAT INCLUDES AT LEAST THE DATE AND PLACE OF BIRTH, THE NAMES OF THE HOSPITAL AND THE ATTENDING PHYSICIAN, IF APPLICABLE, AND SIGNATURES OF ANY WITNESSES IN ATTENDANCE. IF THE CANDIDATE DOES NOT POSSESS A LONG FORM BIRTH CERTIFICATE AS REQUIRED BY THIS PARAGRAPH, THE CANDIDATE MAY ATTACH TWO OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING DOCUMENTS THAT SHALL TAKE THE PLACE OF THE LONG FORM BIRTH CERTIFICATE IF THE CANDIDATE SWEARS TO THEIR AUTHENTICITY AND VALIDITY AND THE DOCUMENTS CONTAIN ENOUGH INFORMATION FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE TO DETERMINE IF THE CANDIDATE MEETS THE REQUIREMENTS PRESCRIBED IN ARTICLE II, SECTION 1, CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES:
(a) EARLY BAPTISMAL OR CIRCUMCISION CERTIFICATE. (b) HOSPITAL BIRTH RECORD. (c) POSTPARTUM MEDICAL RECORD FOR THE MOTHER OR CHILD SIGNED BY THE DOCTOR OR MIDWIFE OR THE PERSON WHO DELIVERED OR EXAMINED THE CHILD AFTER BIRTH. (d) ) EARLY CENSUS RECORD.
If it can't be determined whether candidates who provided documents in place of their birth certificates are eligible to appear on the ballot, the secretary of state would be able to set up a committee to help determine whether the requirements have been met.
The names of candidates can be kept off the ballot if the secretary of state doesn't believe the candidates met the citizenship requirement.