Editorial: Appeal to birthers uncalled for

The Arizona Legislature is waiting on its governor’s signature for an approved “birther” bill that would require presidential candidates to prove their citizenship before placing their names on the state’s ballot.

The bill, originally sponsored by Republican Rep. Carl Seel (R-AZ), is an attempt to ensure what Seel calls “the integrity of elections.”

The bill seems to be a response to the claims that President Barack Obama’s citizenship is questionable.

Those wary of his citizenship , dubbed “birthers,” include politicians like Mike Huckabee, a 2008 presidential candidate.

Huckabee recently questioned the president’s background by accusing Obama of being raised in Kenya ­ — a statement he later rescinded.

Sponsors of the “birther” bill, however, claim the legislative piece is not directed toward one person or event, but was approved to reassure state citizens that federal presidential requirements are met.

“Mr. Obama drew the question out, but it’s not about him,” Seel told The Phoenix News.

Based on its provisions, the bill brings the integrity of the Arizona legislature into question.

If the bill is approved, political parties and presidential candidates must provide affidavits indicating the candidate’s citizenship, age, birth certificate as well as a sworn statement of where the candidate has lived for the past 14 years.

If a copy of the candidate’s birth certificate is unavailable, a baptismal or circumcision certificate, hospital birth record or other documents meet the requirement.

However, if it cannot be decided whether the candidate is eligible based on their substituted documents, the secretary of state holds the right to arrange a committee to make a decision — a subjective clause in the already ridiculous bill.

Ironically, this piece of the bill creates the opposite effect of its intended purpose ­ — to ensure integrity in elections.

An unprecedented candidate bias or prejudice could easily work its way into the secretary of state’s decision.

The bill is unnecessary since the issue it is directly addressing is neither pertinent nor an effect use of the legislature.

State leaders across the country are facing stiff deficits and stark budget cuts. Spending the time and energy to create more bureaucracy is wasteful.

According to a CNN opinion poll, only about 11 percent of American citizens “definitely” believe Obama was born outside the United States.

By all appearances, the “birther” bill looks as if it was written and approved in order to revive what some may consider trivial controversy in the midst of financial crisis and international violence.

The bill is proof of leaders acting childish and hyperbolic.

Instead of creating more reason for division among its citizens, perhaps Arizona should review and readjust its state priorities.

As a nation, there are larger and more pressing issues before us than whether a not one man — who has led us for three years — is a citizen.