Arizona's secretary of state is threatening to keep President Barack Obama's name off the November ballot unless the state of Hawaii can verify that Obama's birth certificate is valid.
Secretary of State Ken Bennett told KFYI Phoenix radio host Mike Broomhead on Thursday he's not a "birther," but that he's responding to constituent concerns in the wake of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio's investigation into Obama's long-form birth certificate. Arpaio released findings in March that said he believes the birth certificate the White House released last year is a "computer-generated forgery."
"I'm not a birther, I believe the president was born in Hawaii -- or at least I hope he was," Bennett said on KFYI. "My responsibility as secretary of state is to make sure the ballots in Arizona are correct and that those people whose names are on the ballot have met the qualifications for the office they are seeking."
Bennett said that since Arpaio's investigation, he has received more than 1,200 emails from people requesting he look into the matter. He said Hawaii has a system where they'll verify a birth certificate in lieu of providing a certified copy of it -- and that eight weeks later, state officials have not fulfilled his request.
“They could say yes tomorrow and the whole thing goes away,” Bennett said. “If they can’t say yes to that simple question, then it makes me wonder if we have to take it to another level. And one way or another, we have to have some simple verification that people are qualified for the office if they’re going to be on the ballot here in Arizona.”
The issue gained further attention this week after World Net Daily, which has pursued theories that Obama's birth certificate is a fake, published an email that Bennett sent to constituents about the matter:
“Because of the importance and profile of the president’s case, and at the request of many constituents, I have gone the extra step of asking the state of Hawaii to verify the facts contained in his birth certificate,” Bennett wrote in response to concerns last month.
[I]f Hawaii can’t or won’t provide verification of the president’s birth certificate, I will not put his name on the ballot,” he wrote.
A Bennett spokesman confirmed to the Phoenix New Times the secretary of state did write the email, saying: "With respect to the story, a constituent requested him to request a verification in lieu of certified copy. They have yet to respond."
Asked by Broomhead whether he would actually keep Obama off the state's ballot without the verification, Bennett responded: "It's possible."