Mar 2, 2011

Then-Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. speaks at a rally in Powder Springs in July 2008. Critics have accused Obama of not fully disclosing his citizenship.
 
 

States do not have the power to decide who is and is not a citizen, born or naturalized. A true "constitutionalist" would know that. -Jay Bookman, AJC.com

A House Republican this week – backed by 93 other lawmakers – proposed a law that would force presidential and vice presidential candidates to prove their citizenship before landing on the Georgia ballot.

House Bill 401 would not allow a candidate on the ballot until the Secretary of State receives "adequate evidence of such person's eligibility for election" to those offices. The bill's sponsor is Mark Hatfield, R-Waycross, but has huge backing with other GOP members.

"I think the issue with our sitting president has been left unresolved for a significant length of time that people have concerns," Hatfield said. "But this is not just about our current president. It's about enforcing the constitutional provisions for anyone who seeks the office of presidency."

The proposal is a slight change from a similar bill from Hatfield last year. That bill would have required presidential candidates in Georgia to file an affidavit swearing to be a natural-born citizen.

Both measures are inspired by the "birther" movement that believes President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. The claim has been widely disproved when Hawaii released records of Obama's birth, but it remains a popular sentiment among some factions.

Hatfield said he describes himself as a Constitutionalist not a "birther" but believes that evidence of Obama's birth has never been made public.

"We've seen a computer-generated summary of a live birth but not the particulars of his birth on a long form," Hatfield said. "Congress has never created an enforcement mechanism, so it is up to the states to step up and fill the gap."

One Republican name attached to Hatfield's proposal  is Rep. Bobby Franklin. The Marietta Republican pre-filed House Bill 37, which calls for each party to list original documentation that their candidate for president is eligible to serve. That proposal is before the Judiciary Committee.

Hatfield's proposal is slated to appear before a Government Affairs subcommittee at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

If the measure passes both houses of the General Assembly, it would fall to Gov. Nathan Deal to sign into law.

Deal, a Republican, was criticized last year for dabbling in conspiracy theories that Obama is not a natural-born citizen.

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