The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it’s illegal for states to require would-be voters to prove they are U.S. citizens before using the “Motor Voter” federal registration form. The justices voted 7-2 to throw out Arizona’s voter-approved requirement that prospective voters document their U.S. citizenship in order to register to vote while getting their driver’s license. 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. Alabama, along with Georgia, Kansas and Tennessee, have similar requirements.
The U.S. Court of Appeals For the Ninth Circuit said that the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, which doesn’t require such documentation, trumps Arizona’s Proposition 200 passed in 2004. Arizona officials claimed that their law was needed to stop non-Americans from voting in elections. The simple truth is that the law was just another attack on minorities, immigrants and the elderly. Fortunately, the high court agreed with the federal government in the case.
Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented from the court’s ruling, saying that the Constitution “authorizes states to determine the qualifications of voters in federal elections, which necessarily includes the related power to determine whether those qualifications are satisfied.” The federal “motor voter” law, enacted in 1993 to expand voter registration, requires states to offer voter registration when a resident applies for a driver’s license or certain benefits.
Another provision of that law – the one at issue before the court – requires states to allow would-be voters to fill out mail-in registration cards and swear they are citizens under penalty of perjury, but it doesn’t require them to show proof. Under Proposition 200, Arizona officials require an Arizona driver’s license issued after 1996, a U.S. birth certificate, a passport or other similar document, or the state will reject the federal registration application form. The case is Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc.
Sources: AL.com and Associated Press
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