"Birther" Bill Is a Favorite of Arizona Voters, According to Poll

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Of some of the more controversial ideas tossed around the Arizona Legislature, the "birther" bill is the most popular to voters, according to a recent poll.

The Morrison Institute for Public Policy quizzed Arizona voters on five of the more controversial bills brought up by the right-hand side of the Legislature, including the citizen militia, religious objections to contraception, bringing guns to public places, stronger abortion regulations, and of course, the "birther" bill.

Just one of those ideas had more support than opposition -- the "birther" bill.

Sixty percent of the voters polled supported the bill "that would require presidential candidates to come to sign an affidavit that they are an American citizen," while 36 percent opposed it.

Just over one-third of the poll respondents said they "strongly support" the idea.

In another indication that Arizona's state representatives and senators may not exactly be representative of their constituents, a couple of the more popular of these controversial pieces of legislation were the ones killed at the Legislature.

The "birther" bill, pushed during the most recent legislative session by state Representative Carl Seel, was killed pretty quickly.

The third-most popular piece of legislation in the poll, the citizen militia -- "creating an armed volunteer citizen militia to patrol the Arizona-Mexico border" -- wasn't even voted on in the House.

Forty percent of those polled wanted to see the citizen militia.

On the other hand, the second-most popular bill -- abortion regulations, including a ban past 20 weeks of pregnancy -- was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer in April.

Forty-four percent of people supported that one, while 47 percent did not.

The two least-popular bills, the religious opt-out to contraception coverage and bringing guns in public places, received support of 13 percent and 23 percent, respectively.

Both of those bills passed the Legislature, as the religious opt-out bill is sitting on the governor's desk, while Brewer vetoed the firearms bill.

Bruce Merrill, the man behind the polls, says there's a reason for this disconnect between voters and legislators.

"It is clear that the main reason for this disconnect is that most of the legislators sponsoring these bills were elected during the primary election when voter turnout is very low," Merrill says. "During low-turnout elections, voters who are at the extreme end of both the 'right' and the 'left' disproportionately are the ones who go to the polls.

"For those who disagree with the Legislature's policies and want a more 'moderate' public policy, the message is clear -- get out and vote in the primaries, as those who vote legitimately have the right to determine public policy," he says.

According to the poll, 488 people were quizzed, with 36 percent Republican, 30 percent Democrat, and 34 percent registered independent or "other."

Go to page two to read more about Arizona's "birther bill" and the call for descriptions of candidates' penises.

Arizona's "birther" bill was originally approved last year by the Legislature and passed on to Governor Jan Brewer, who vetoed it -- probably because it called for a description of a candidate's penis as an option to get on the ballot.

But as with any nutty legislation in Arizona, once again it rose from the dead. With the "birthers," apparently if there's a will, there's a way.

Thanks to the glory of the strike-everything amendment -- and Seel's "birther" buddies in the Senate -- Seel's "birther" bill still may have some life.

With this latest poll, the continuously debunked conspiracy theory that President Obama's not eligible to be president clearly lives on -- Seel actually made an appearance at one of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's "birther" press conferences, making it clear he is still intent on getting this type of legislation passed.

This attempt at "birther"-ism forces candidates to sign a sworn affidavit -- under penalties of perjury -- that they're eligible. The chair of the national political party for each candidate has to do the same (as if Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz wouldn't sign this affidavit on behalf of the president).

The bill also allows any qualified elector to challenge the affidavits in court, and it comes with an emergency clause -- just to be sure someone could create yet another statewide embarrassment by November if the governor were to sign this thing.

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