Arizona

Dec 17, 2012 4:34 PM by Associated Press

Obama birth issue raised by 3 Arizona electors

PHOENIX (AP) - Critics of President Barack Obama used a ceremony to record Arizona's Electoral College votes Monday as a new opportunity to voice their doubts over his eligibility to hold the nation's highest office, an issue that officials have repeatedly attempted to put to rest.

All 11 Arizona electors cast their votes for defeated Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who won the state's popular vote.

The state Republican Party chairman and two other Electoral College members spoke up during the ceremony to voice doubts about Obama's eligibility as a native-born U.S. citizen.

College member Don Ascoli, who recently finished serving as Republican Party chairman in Gila County, said he didn't think Obama was "properly vetted as a legitimate candidate for president."

Hawaii officials have certified that Obama was born in that state. White House officials also have released Obama's birth certificate in an attempt to get past such questions.

Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who presided over the Electoral College ceremony, later said he did not share the views of the three college members, but he said the college members were exercising their First Amendment rights.

Gov. Jan Brewer, who observed the ceremony, later said she disagreed with the three college members' opinions.

"The bottom line is everybody is entitled to their own opinion. I happen to disagree," she said.

Brewer in 2011 vetoed a bill passed by the Arizona Legislature to require Obama and other presidential candidates to prove their U.S. citizenship before their names could appear on the state's ballot.

The bill would have made Arizona the first state to pass such a requirement.

Brewer said in her veto letter that she was troubled that the bill empowered Arizona's secretary of state to judge the qualifications of all candidates when they file to run for office.

The U.S. Constitution requires that presidential candidates be "natural-born" U.S. citizens, be at least 35 years old, and be a resident of the United States for at least 14 years.

Nationally, Obama is on course to get 332 electoral college votes to Romney's 206, barring extremely rare defectors known as "faithless electors."

Electors across the nation also were affirming Joe Biden for another term as vice president.

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