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June 17, 2013

Arizona's Voter Registration Proof Of Citizenship Requirement Thrown Out By Supreme Court

This wasn't part of the illegal immigration enforcement bills from a few years back but rather a voter imitative law put in place in 2004.

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that states cannot require would-be voters to prove they are U.S. citizens before using a federal registration system designed to make signing up easier.

The justices voted 7-2 to throw out Arizona's voter-approved requirement that prospective voters document their U.S. citizenship in order to use a registration form produced under the federal "Motor Voter" voter registration law.

Federal law "precludes Arizona from requiring a federal form applicant to submit information beyond that required by the form itself," Justice Antonia Scalia wrote for the court's majority.

It's a fairly straight forward preemption issue. The federal government has mandated a use of a specific registration* form through the Motor Voter Act and the court is simply saying that states can't add qualifications to it.

What the Court didn't seem to say is that such a requirement would be unconstitutional. So, it's time to press House and Senate candidates to add this to the federal form. Ideally, they'd repeal Motor Voter all together but that's not going to happen so fixing this oversight is probably the best we can hope for. Of course, that's likely a bridge too far.


*Apparently some people are confusing proof of citizenship at the time of registration with being able to vote. Just to be clear, SCOTUS didn't find a right to vote for non-citizens or say states couldn't stop non-citizens from voting.

That's why I said this was more a simple preemption case than an earth shattering voting rights case. Still, I think it's something states should be allowed to do and with political will it's a simple fix.

(I added "Registration" to the title to help avoid confusion)


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posted by DrewM. at 11:26 AM

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