Mixed Ruling on Arizona Voter Restrictions

Voting rights and state initiatives to prevent voting frauds remain contentious subjects. A growing number of states have enacted voter ID laws, prompting a divisive debate over whether proponents are seeking to limit access to the polls in a presidential election year.

In November 2004 Arizona accepted “Proposition 200,” an Arizona state initiative that required individuals to produce proof of citizenship before they may register to vote or apply for public benefits in Arizona, with 56% of the vote. It is said that the “Protect Arizona Now” committee, wrote it because of a serious concern for lax voter registration and voting procedures and concerns that public services to immigrants from neighboring Mexico, many of whom are illegal immigrants, were too costly.

A new decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from April 17 upheld Arizona’s requirement that voters show identification at the polls, but struck down its requirement that they show proof of United States citizenship to register to vote in federal elections.

The court said the “photo identification requirement is not an invidious restriction” but concluded that the National Voting Rights Act superseded the law’s requirement that anyone registering to vote in a federal election show “satisfactory evidence” of citizenship.

This decision puts an end to a long fight over this state initiative. Already in October 2006, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily suspended the requirement of poll identification. However, the ruling was confirmed fifteen days later by the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2010 a 3-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held the proposition to be invalid. Nevertheless the Ninth Circuit granted Arizona’s petition for en banc review of this ruling that came to an end with the reported decision.

For information how to register to vote please check out the following links: http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/thepoliticalsystem/a/voterreg.htm for general information and http://phoenix.about.com/cs/govt/ht/registervote.htm for information about Arizona ID requirements.

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