What's the matter with proving citizenship to vote?

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Arizona citizenship proof law: Supreme Court issues split ruling

By Rebekah L. Sanders The Republic | azcentral.com Mon Jun 17, 2013 9:51 AM

Arizona can continue to require people registering to vote with a state-issued form to prove their citizenship with documents, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday. But the state cannot require residents using a federal government voter-registration form to do the same, the court said in a divided opinion this morning.
The 7-2 ruling, which upholds a lower-court decision, allows Arizona’s dual voter-registration system to continue.
Read the Supreme Court's ruling >>
Attorney General Tom Horne had argued before the Supreme Court in March that Arizona’s law should apply to both state and federal forms to uphold election integrity. Both forms are used statewide to register people to vote.
Voter-rights advocates celebrated the decision, arguing it protects citizens who are eligible to vote from being denied that right by state officials. Minorities, the elderly and students, they said, often lack the required documentation to register or have provided proof in the past and still been denied. Groups that hold voter registration drives say they will benefit by being able to use the simpler federal form.
“Today’s decision sends a strong message that states cannot block their citizens from registering to vote by superimposing burdensome paperwork requirements on top of federal law,” Nina Perales, vice president of litigation for the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and lead counsel for the voters who challenged the law, said in a written statement. “The Supreme Court has affirmed that all U.S. citizens have the right to register to vote using the national postcard, regardless of the state in which they live,” concluded Perales.
However, Republican state officials and Arizona immigration-enforcement activists have warned the ruling keeps open a loophole for voter fraud. The federal form, which requires the registrant simply to sign under penalty of perjury that he or she is a citizen, fails to prevent illegal immigrants from compromising elections, they say.
The decision in Arizona vs. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., brings to a close nearly a decade of legal battles over a state law known as Proposition 200. Voter-rights groups, Native American tribes, Hispanic organizations and other individuals affected by the law have waged the fight against Prop. 200. The state attorney general, Secretary of State Ken Bennett and nearly every county election official has linked arms to defend it.
But clashes over voter laws will likely continue, said Rebecca Green, a professor and co-director of the election law program at The College of William and Mary in Virginia.
“I don’t think it will be the last story here,” she said. “If the court decides that Congress has spoken on this and there’s no room for states to add additional requirements (to the federal voter registration form) ... states like Arizona are certain to look for other ways to ensure that people are not voting fraudulently and non-citizens are not casting ballots.”
The ballot measure passed in 2004 with wide popular support, including 47 percent of Hispanics. It requires people to show documents that prove citizenship such as a copy of an Arizona driver’s license issued after 1996, a passport, birth certificate, naturalization number or tribal card to register to vote. In addition the law requires personal identification to vote at a polling place, a so-called “voter ID” provision that was challenged in court and upheld, as well as citizenship documentation to qualify for public benefits, such as welfare.
Opponents of Prop 200 say it has resulted in thousands of people’s voter registrations being rejected, even though many were eligible. Advocates say it has prevented widespread voter fraud by illegal immigrants.
The Prop 200 court hearing in Washington, D.C., drew less attention and fewer protestors than the arguments last year in Arizona’s controversial immigration-enforcement law known as S.B. 1070. But the voter-registration case represents a similar effort in recent years by immigration-enforcement activists to tighten state laws to deter illegal immigration, citing failure by the federal government to address the issue. The Supreme Court’s decision is a blow to those efforts, championed by high-profile figures like former state Sen. Russell Pearce.
Several other states followed Arizona’s lead, passing similar laws requiring proof-of-citizenship to register to vote. But so far officials have held off enforcing them while courts have examined Arizona’s measure known as Proposition 200. Those laws, in the face of the Supreme Court ruling, could be challenged.
Hardline immigration activists in Arizona say they have at least one more avenue to narrow the federal loophole. They could try to convince Arizona’s conservative state Legislature to thumb its nose at the Supreme Court, and, in a rare move, set up a separate federal election system: Anyone who registered to vote using the federal form without citizenship documents would be allowed to vote solely in federal elections. Their ballots would show boxes for president and Congress, for instance, but not state lawmakers, ballot initiatives, mayor and council or school board. People who registered with the state form could participate in elections for all offices.
Kathy McKee, an activist who helped launch the effort for Prop 200, pledged to mobilize supporters for that system. But Bennett, who oversees the state’s election system, said he worried that the two-tier election process would be overly complicated. He doubted the likelihood of its creation.
Justice Antonin Scalia, considered one of the most conservative justices, wrote the opinion. He argued that the federal government’s constitutional power over elections preempted the state’s election authority.
But Scalia left open a door for Arizona to continue to press its case. He said the state could petition the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, a part of the federal government created by Congress that oversees the federal voter-registration form, to add a rule to the federal form distributed in Arizona to require documentary proof of citizenship. And if the commission rejects the request, Arizona could go to court, Scalia wrote. The justices questioned why the state had not pursued that avenue in the March arguments
 

delldude

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Isn't over by a long shot. Technical glitch possibly.

While the court was clear in stating that states cannot add additional identification requirements to the federal forms on their own, it was also clear that the same actions can be taken by state governments if they get the approval of the federal government and the federal courts.

With Holder I doubt it thought.
 
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Isn't over by a long shot. Technical glitch possibly.



With Holder I doubt it thought.

Holder is on his way out I hope.

I'm a legal voter in Arizona. I'd gladly provide an ID and voter registration card if asked. If you don't then you have something to hide as far as I am concerned.
 

Ifly2

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Imo there is no reason not to have n ID to vote, none at all

Agreed

There is also no reason to make getting such ID difficult, or expensive

Shortly after the Patriot Act provision requiring states to verify ID before issuing driver's licenses were issued, it came to light that large numbers of older folks here in good ol' Missouri would not be able to renew their licenses, because they didn't have access to suitable "proof".

An accommodation was eventually made.

Nevertheless, requiring ID makes sense

Making the process onerous, particularly for the groups that those in power don't want voting, does not.

Thus things like the Voting Rights Act
 
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I guess we may not vote for the same candidates but support the fact that US citizens should be the ones alllowed to vote.
 

Glenn Quagmire

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I guess we may not vote for the same candidates but support the fact that US citizens should be the ones alllowed to vote.
I also support the principle. The problem is that some states have made getting an ID difficult for those who do not drive or have other issues with being able to pay for one. Some have made it a default poll tax.

If getting an ID is easy and equal for all, then I am all for having to show one to vote.
 
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I also support the principle. The problem is that some states have made getting an ID difficult for those who do not drive or have other issues with being able to pay for one. Some have made it a default poll tax.

If getting an ID is easy and equal for all, then I am all for having to show one to vote.

I recall the story of the 93-year old woman, Vivette Applewhite.

Viviette Applewhite, a 93-year-old African-American women from Philadelphia, will be the lead plaintiff in the NAACP and ACLU’s case against the state’s new voter ID law. The voter ID law will now require voters to show a valid driver’s license or other forms of identification in order to be able to vote. Applewhite has been voting for 50 years and because of her age she no longer owns a birth certificate. Since she does not have a driver’s license either, she will not be eligible to vote in the upcoming elections. She says that she has been voting since 1960 and she cast her first vote for President John F. Kennedy. Philly.com reports

She should be able to vote and someone should be able to get her an ID and drive her to a polling station. Someone who went through the civil rights era certainly should not be denied the opportunity.
 

southwind

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I recall the story of the 93-year old woman, Vivette Applewhite.

Viviette Applewhite, a 93-year-old African-American women from Philadelphia, will be the lead plaintiff in the NAACP and ACLU’s case against the state’s new voter ID law. The voter ID law will now require voters to show a valid driver’s license or other forms of identification in order to be able to vote. Applewhite has been voting for 50 years and because of her age she no longer owns a birth certificate. Since she does not have a driver’s license either, she will not be eligible to vote in the upcoming elections. She says that she has been voting since 1960 and she cast her first vote for President John F. Kennedy. Philly.com reports

She should be able to vote and someone should be able to get her an ID and drive her to a polling station. Someone who went through the civil rights era certainly should not be denied the opportunity.

I understand, not all elderly people have family members to depend on for matters such as retaining an I.D. and instead of the NAACP spending money to fight voter I.D. why not spend the money helping those , who are citizens, retain I.D. ?

And as Ms. Applewhite, is an American citizen , I'm sure she wouldn't like undocumented people making decisions, at the polls, that affect her, !
 
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I understand, not all elderly people have family members to depend on for matters such as retaining an I.D. and instead of the NAACP spending money to fight voter I.D. why not spend the money helping those , who are citizens, retain I.D. ?

And as Ms. Applewhite, is an American citizen , I'm sure she wouldn't like undocumented people making decisions, at the polls, that affect her, !

I'm all for getting Ms Applewhite to the polling station with the proper ID. What gets lost in the mix is when people like Al Sharpton jump in with their own agendas just for publicity.
 
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Agreed

There is also no reason to make getting such ID difficult, or expensive

Shortly after the Patriot Act provision requiring states to verify ID before issuing driver's licenses were issued, it came to light that large numbers of older folks here in good ol' Missouri would not be able to renew their licenses, because they didn't have access to suitable "proof".

An accommodation was eventually made.

Nevertheless, requiring ID makes sense

Making the process onerous, particularly for the groups that those in power don't want voting, does not.

Thus things like the Voting Rights Act

BUT...BUT...BUT,....WHY would groups in Power, Not want certain groups to Vote ?

Can this mean...that "these groups" don't want (for example) Polish Folks to vote ? Maybe Italians ?

How about Hispanics ?............African Americans ?

I gues I don't understand !