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Latino Daily News

Monday June 17, 2013

AZ Proof of Citizenship Requirement Struck down by Supreme Court

AZ Proof of Citizenship Requirement Struck down by Supreme Court

Photo: Supreme Court Justices

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In a vote of 7-2 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Arizona law requiring proof of citizenship to vote.

The state of Arizona under the leadership of Republican Jan Brewer was seeking to enhance federal voter registration guidelines through its “Proposition 200” by requiring potential voters to provide proof of citizenship during the enrollment process. 

Currently the voter registration form requires an individual to swear under oath they are indeed a U.S. citizen otherwise face perjury charges.

The Supreme Court in its decision felt that was enough of a requirement to assure only U.S. citizens are voting. Arizona passed its proof of citizenship law in 2004 in order to curtail election fraud while civil rights organization felt it discouraged voting.  As a result of this legislation over 30,000 people in Arizona failed to meet the documentation requirement so did not vote though the majority claim to be U.S. citizens.  A potential voter needed to provide either a birth certificate, passport, naturalization papers or a state driver’s license in order to quality to vote.

MALDEF (the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) filed the original lawsuit on behalf of voters in the case decided today as Arizona v. ITCA. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of Latinos in Arizona increased by 600,000, and comprise 30 percent of the state’s population. The growth in population spurred Arizona to combat voting by undocumented immigrants, but failed to identify a single instance of it ever happening, according to MALDEF, the NAACP and other organizations.

The court ruled that states could not add to the federal form since it lacked the authority to do so.  Currently Alabama, Georgia, Kansas and Tennessee have proof of citizenship requirements and supported Arizona’s argument before the Supreme Court.