Arizona Voter ID Law Overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected Arizona’s law requiring residents to prove their citizenship before registering to vote.


The ruling, which had only two dissents (Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito), represented the second time that the Supreme Court has overturned an Arizona law targeting illegal immigrants. In both cases, the court said the state had entered legal territory where the federal government and its law are dominant.


With the 2004 voting law, the state tried to require individuals to show proof of citizenship at the polls and at the time of registering to vote. Such documents as a birth certificate or a passport constitute such proof. As required by federal law, the U.S. Justice Department, in 2005, approved Arizona’s changes to its voting procedures as directed by the new state initiative.


A collection of groups and individuals, including the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, League of Women Voters, League of United Latin American Citizens Arizona and the Hopi Tribe, sued to get the law (Proposition 200 [pdf]) thrown out, claiming it violated the National Voter Registration Act (pdf). That law allows voters to register to vote by filling out a federal form requiring them to state whether or not they are a citizen of the United States.


Thomas A. Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, hailed the Supreme Court’s ruling.


“The decision really puts another barrier in front of those who would seek to suppress votes,” Saenz told The New York Times.


Republican state lawmaker John Kavanagh disagreed with the ruling, saying the federal government has not done enough to curb illegal immigration.


“Arizona has a serious problem with illegal immigration, being one of the leading illegal entry states, so protecting the credibility of our election system requires that we exclude illegal aliens and any other noncitizens from voting,” he said. “Not being able to request proof makes that impossible.”


Kavanagh will be heartened by the announcement of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), stating that he hopes to reverse the court’s ruling by adding a voter ID requirement to the comprehensive immigration reform bill currently being debated in the Senate.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

No Proof of Citizenship to Register to Vote in Ariz. (by Barbara Leonard, Courthouse News Service)

Justices Block Law Requiring Voters to Prove Citizenship (by Adam Liptak, New York Times)

Ted Cruz Adding Voter ID to Immigration Bill to Reverse Supreme Court Ruling (by David Edwards, Raw Story)

Republican Voter ID Strategy May Backfire as Many Seniors Find Voting Harder (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)            

Increasing Numbers of Registered Voters Could Lose Right to Vote because of New ID Laws (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Voter ID Laws Could Take Vote away from 25,000 Transgender Americans (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


kramartini 11 years ago
Monday’s Supreme Court ruling renders the Federal voter registration form illegal in Arizona for any purpose other than registration for Congressional elections, since: 1. Arizona Prop. 200 disallows the use of a voter registration form that does not require proof of citizenship. 2. Prop. 200 is a validly enacted law that must be given full effect to the extent that it is not invalid or pre-empted. 3. Congress, through the "Motor Voter" act, has required that all states accept the Federal form (which does not require proof of citizenship and cannot be unilaterally altered by any state) for Congressional elections. 4. The Supreme Court has held that Motor Voter pre-empts Prop. 200. The result is that, even though Arizona MUST accept the Federal form for registration for Congressional elections, it CANNOT accept it for any other type of election, since it does not require the proof of citizenship mandated by Prop. 200.

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