Supreme Court should overturn Arizona voter law
Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 00:03
The Supreme Court heard arguments early Monday regarding a controversial Arizona voter registration law passed in 2004 that required prospective voters to prove citizenship before applying, though federal regulation does not require it.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Inter Tribal Council are challenging the law, Proposition 200, because it violates the federal government’s regulations under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also know as the “motor voter” act.
The “motor voter” act was passed to ensure the registration process is as easy and streamlined as possible so more voters are willing and able to vote. The act even has a requirement that states that potential voters, under penalty of perjury, assure that their application is truthful and that they are indeed American citizens. Arizona’s Proposition 200 only takes existing law and changes it around to punish potential voters before a crime has been committed.
This is not to mention that this law, like most voter ID laws, unequivocally affect poor and minority voters more than others. That is why the Voting Rights Act specifically puts harsh restrictions on States that have had a history of racial segregation in their voting laws — something that the states involved challenged in the Supreme Court last month.
Though Arizona lawmakers may say their intentions behind the law are to protect the sanctity of the voting process by ensuring that non-citizens, Proposition 200 is just another way to disenfranchise voters for fear of voter fraud — an offense that rarely occurs.
The only thing the Arizona law does is add another hurdle between potential voters and their right to vote.
Besides adding undue pressure to registering voters, the law, if cleared by the Supreme Court, would provide legal precedence that could allow other states to deviate from federal voter laws. If this happens, the legal precedence of both the National Voter Registration Act and the Voting Rights Act would be mere stepping-stones for any State Legislature to walk over and pass any voting regulation regardless of the unintended effects.
Before last year’s election, state legislators tried at an unprecedented level to rush voting regulations in their states. From everything to requiring photo identification, blocking early voting and forcing unruly regulation on registration officials, lawmakers are systematically attacking the voting process in order to gain a political upper hand.
The Supreme Court must remember that laws like Arizona’s Proposition 200 turn a nonexistent threat of voter fraud into a realistic attack on the most quintessential right of law-abiding Americans. If they do not then there will inevitably be similar laws to follow.