Arizona Secretary of state Ken Bennett, President Barack Obama
(Left) Tim Hacker/Tribune file; (Right) AP Photo/Saul Loeb, Pool

Arizona voters may not get a chance to vote to reelect the president.

Secretary of State Ken Bennett said Friday he is requesting officials in Hawaii to provide verification that President Obama was, in fact, born there.

Bennett, who is the state’s chief election official, said he has had multiple requests from constituents to verify the president is a “natural born citizen” and therefore eligible to hold the highest office in the land. Those requests, he said, included that he demand to see the actual birth certificate and even to go to Hawaii to do a forensic examination of it to determine its authenticity.

He said he rejected those requests. But Bennett said he learned that Hawaii has a law which allows that state to do a verification for any officials from other states who have the need.

“I downloaded the form off of Hawaii’s web site, I got a $5 money order and filled it out and basically sent it in,” he explained. “What you’re asking for really is for them to say, yes we have — or do you have — a certificate for Barack Hussein Obama II born on Aug. 4, 1961 to these parents at this place and on and on and on.”

Bennett said if he eventually gets the verification, end of the matter. And if he does not?

“I don’t think it does anyone any good to speculate the worst case scenario,” he said.

“I think Hawaii will, one way or the other ... will confirm or verify that they have a certificate for the president,” Bennett continued. “And it’s done.”

The move comes despite the fact that Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed legislation last year which would have required candidates for president to provide documents proving they meet the federal constitutional requirement to be a “natural-born citizen” before their name is placed on the ballot. The governor said giving the secretary of state authority to decide if a candidate is eligible, as the law would have allowed, “could lead to arbitrary or politically motivated decisions.”

Similar legislation this year requiring political parties to provide such proof never made it to the governor’s desk.

But Bennett said that does not preclude what he is doing.

“I don’t think every specific act that the secretary of state does in the course of their duty is specifically authorized in a statute,” he said.

For example, Bennett said that as the chief election officer for the state, he designs many forms. And he said there is no specific authority for that.

He acknowledged that so far he has made no similar request for other candidates.

But Bennett, a Republican who is weighing a run for governor in 2014, said he is not singling out the Democratic president for special treatment. He said he was simply responding to the request of a constituent, saying he would do the same thing “if somebody asked me to verify the Libertarian candidate or Mitt Romney or whoever it might end up being.”

Bennett’s move caught Brewer by surprise. But she declined to criticize him.

“I guess whatever he determined is the proper thing to do,” the governor said, saying she does not have an opinion on it.

But the governor already is on record as believing such a request is unnecessary.

Brewer said Friday she had spoken several years ago to her Hawaiian counterpart when the issue first arose.

“She validated to me that the (birth) certificate was valid,” Brewer said. “And I put that to a rest.”

In vetoing last year’s legislation, Brewer suggested there was an “ick” factor in the measure, noting candidates who could not produce a “long form birth certificate” would have the option instead of furnishing other documents.

“I never imagined being presented with a bill that could require candidates for president of the greatest and most powerful nation on Earth to submit their ‘early baptismal or circumcision certificates’ among other records to the Arizona secretary of state,” she wrote.

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