Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The New York Times editorialized in an opinion today that Arizona's voter ID law should be overturned. Arizona’s Barrier to the Right to Vote:
Arizona’s Proposition 200, passed in 2004, prohibits local officials from registering any would-be voter who does not provide “satisfactory evidence of United States citizenship.” That requirement conflicts with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also known as the Motor Voter Act, which set up a national registration system for federal elections.
On Monday, the Supreme Court heard arguments (.pdf) about whether states have the power under the federal law to add restrictions to voter registration. They clearly do not. The justices should reject Arizona’s law as invalid and avoid recreating the problem that the federal law was intended to fix.
Congress sought to remedy the “complicated maze of laws and procedures” passed by state and local governments that kept 40 percent of eligible voters from registering. The 1993 law allows voters to sign up to vote in federal elections when they apply for a driver’s license or by mailing in a federal form on which they swear they are citizens under penalty of perjury. The law also says that a state must “accept and use the mail voter registration application form prescribed.” Arizona’s statute directly conflicts with the federal law by imposing the additional requirement of proof of citizenship.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit struck down the statute as being pre-empted by the federal law. Proposition 200’s purpose is to combat undocumented immigration, but the state produced no evidence of undocumented immigrants registering or voting in Arizona. As a brief from a group of state and local elections officials from around the country said, “Efforts by noncitizens to register and vote are exceedingly rare” and do not justify making it harder for voters to register. Arizona produced evidence that in 2005 and 2007, only 19 noncitizens registered to vote — out of 2,734,108 registered state voters.
In the same period, Arizona rejected the registrations of 31,550 people. Most of them — 87 percent of the Hispanics, 93 percent of the others — listed the United States as their birthplace. The recorder’s office in Arizona’s largest county said that most of those it rejected were citizens who lacked required identification.
The Constitution’s elections clause says that states shall prescribe “the times, places and manner of holding elections for senators and representatives,” but that “Congress may at any time by law make or alter” those regulations. As long as Congress has acted within “the ample limits of the election clause’s grant of authority,” the Supreme Court has said, what Congress does in the realm of voting is paramount because “the framers envisioned a uniform national system.”
Congress’s explicit purpose was to strengthen this voting system by streamlining the process for registering to vote. The Supreme Court should strike down the unwarranted and conflicting Arizona law, which eviscerates the federal effort to extend the Constitution’s fundamental right to every eligible voter.