PHOENIX - President Obama won't necessarily need to dig out a birth certificate if he hopes to be on the Arizona ballot next year.
But he still may need to show state officials a menu of alternative documents.
Without debate, the Senate on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to legislation to make sure candidates for president are U.S. citizens, old enough to hold office and meet residency requirements. HB 2177 says those who cannot provide the proof cannot have their names on the ballot.
But Sen. Frank Antenori, R-Tucson, said the requirement in the House-passed version that candidates produce a "long-form birth certificate" is too restrictive. In fact, he noted, it's far more than even the federal government requires to get a passport - or a top-secret clearance.
His amendment provides a list of alternatives, including a baptismal or circumcision certificate, a hospital birth record, a postpartum medical record or even an early census record. Any two of these would be enough to establish eligibility.
And if none of those are available, the notarized affidavit of two or more people who actually witnessed the candidate's birth would suffice.
"There are a lot of people, I've come to find out, that don't have birth certificates," Antenori said. Sometimes, he said, the problem can be as simple as a fire having destroyed original records.
Antenori, who said he's had a top-secret clearance since he was 18 - first in the military working with nuclear weapons and now for his job at Raytheon - said that's the same list of acceptable forms of proving citizenship that was used by those who checked him out.
"If it's good enough for the federal government, it's good enough for Arizona," he said.
And Antenori is convinced Obama, whose actual long-form birth certificate has never been publicly released, will have no problems meeting the alternate qualifications.
Questions of the president's qualifications have been around for years and never been quieted, even after the release of a "certificate of live birth" issued by the state of Hawaii, testimony from that state's governor that he was present at Obama's birth and contemporary newspaper birth announcements.
The issue was stirred up again recently when Donald Trump, expressing interest in becoming a Republican candidate for president, said Obama should release his full birth certificate.
The original legislation was by Rep. Judy Burges, R-Skull Valley.
She has said the measure is not necessarily about Obama, though she admitted she doubts he was born in Hawaii as he says or that he can prove he is a U.S. citizen.
Antenori said Obama himself shares some of the blame by failing to come forward prior to the 2008 election with the documents, opening the door for theories maybe he wasn't born in the United States, and leading to a spate of bills in not only Arizona but several other states.