"Birther" bill passes in Arizona legislature

birther

Both the Arizona House and Senate yesterday passed a bill requiring U.S. presidential candidates to prove their citizenship in order to get on the state ballot, making the Arizona legislature the first in the nation to approve "birther" legislation.

Republican Gov. Jan Brewer has five days to either sign the bill, veto it, or do nothing and allow it to become law.

Versions of this legislation have gone before the state legislature several times in the past two years, the Arizona Republic reports, and stem from questions about President Obama's origins. Yet supporters of the measure said it is not about Mr. Obama specifically.

"It's essential that we bring back the integrity to the office," Republican state Rep. Judy Burges reportedly said during debate over the bill.

Democratic state Rep. Ruben Gallego complained the legislation makes Arizona look "backward," the Republic reports. "You might as well change Arizona to Alabama," he said.

If the bill becomes law, presidential and vice presidential candidates would have to show the Arizona secretary of state proof that they are natural-born citizens. This could be either a long-form birth certificate or at least two other forms of accepted proof, such as an early baptismal certificate, circumcision certificate or hospital birth record.

If the Arizona secretary of state doesn't think a candidate has provided sufficient proof, they can keep the candidate off the state's ballot or set up a committee to determine whether the documents of proof provided meet the requirements, the Arizona Daily Star reports.

Thirteen other states have considered similar bills this year, according to the Daily Star.

The "birther movement," which questions whether Mr. Obama was born in the United States and is thus qualified to be president, has persisted through Mr. Obama's presidency, in spite of the overwhelming evidence that exists to prove he was born in Hawaii. It's gained new steam in recent weeks since Donald Trump, a potential 2012 Republican presidential contender, has pushed the issue.

In an interview yesterday, Mr. Obama said the birther issue might be "politically expedient in the short-term" for Republicans but it creates "a problem for them when they want to actually run in a general election."

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