Supreme Court Rules Arizona “Show Us Your Papers” Voter Law In Violation Of NVRA

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 17, 2013

Contact:          Cynthia Gordy, 202-341-0555 or cgordy@advancementproject.org

SUPREME COURT RULES ARIZONA “SHOW US YOUR PAPERS” VOTER LAW IN VIOLATION OF NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION ACT, CIVIL RIGHTS GROUP PUTS DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICES OF OTHER STATES ON NOTICE

A Statement from Advancement Project

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that Arizona’s Proposition 200, a voter registration law that requires people to show documentary proof of citizenship to register to vote, violates the federal National Voter Registration Act, which allows all citizens to register to vote using a simple, uniform postcard application. In response, Advancement Project, which is currently litigating with partners against Florida’s 2012 voter purge, issued the following statement.

“The Supreme Court’s decision on Arizona’s Proposition 200 is an important victory for voting rights,” said Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis. “By rejecting the federal mail-in voter registration form and requiring additional proof of citizenship such as a birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers, the statute not only violated federal law but was also misguided. Between the time of the law’s implementation in 2005 and the first time it went to trial in 2008, more than 30,000 prospective voters in Arizona had their registration rejected because they did not include the additional documentation required. Nationally, more than 11 million American citizens lack access to these documents – which can be costly and difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. With the tremendous success of the National Voter Registration Act in boosting participation through the mail-in voter registration form, as well as safeguarding the process against fraud, there is simply no need for laws like Prop 200 that only restrict access to the ballot.”

“The Supreme Court found that Arizona’s misguided law conflicts with the Federal Voter Registration Form requirements. However, the majority’s decision still permits Arizona and other states to apply to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to amend the federal form and request unnecessary proof of citizenship at the state level,” said Advancement Project Co-Director Penda D. Hair. “Advancement Project calls on the EAC to reject any such efforts because federal law already provides enough protection, and states should not be unduly burdening eligible citizens who want to register to vote. Laws like Arizona’s Proposition 200, requiring proof of citizenship to vote have a clear target: naturalized citizens. They essentially create a two-tiered voting system, in which naturalized citizens are ordered to ‘show their papers’ and intimidated with letters threatening to remove them from the voter rolls. In addition, data that would be used to restrict access to the voting roles is frequently incomplete, and a flawed source for determining who can legally vote. These discriminatory efforts should, and must, come to a stop.”  

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