Vital Signs

A Supreme Disqualification

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court once again trampled on the rights of the states.  The media took little notice.

Since it became a state in 1912, Arizona has had a citizenship requirement for voters.  In 2004, the people of the state, in an effort to combat voter fraud, enacted Proposition 200.  This initiative requires every application for voter registration be “accompanied by satisfactory evidence of United States citizenship.”  Arizona statutory law further provides that various documents can serve as proper evidence.  A prospective voter may, for example, supply a copy of his birth certificate, passport, driver’s license (if the issuing authority verifies citizenship), or naturalization documents.

The National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) requires that the states “accept and use” a federal form in the voter-registration process.  The federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) designs the form, which differs from state to state, as it contains a number of state-specific instructions.  Arizona had asked the EAC to include the state’s “satisfactory evidence” requirement on the federal form to be used in Arizona, but the EAC declined to do so.  Instead of requiring documentation of citizenship, the form provided by the EAC simply instructs a registrant to affirm under penalty of perjury that he is a U.S. citizen.

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