The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned Arizona’s requirement that people show proof of citizenship to register to vote.
The split decision by a three-judge panel determined that the requirement to show proof of citizenship — passed by voters in 2004 — is not consistent with the National Voter Registration Act.
Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, temporarily sitting by designation, and Circuit Judge Sandra Ikuta, with chief judge Alex Kozinski dissenting, said Prop. 200 creates an additional hurdle, while the national act is intended to reduce “state-imposed obstacles” to registration.
The majority noted that Congress was well aware of the problem of voter fraud when it passed the voter act, and built in sufficient protections, including applying perjury penalties to applicants who lie about their eligibilty.
The court determined Arizona’s polling place photo identification requirement, however, is a minimal burden and does not violate the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment.
Attorney General Terry Goddard’s office is still reviewing the decision and was unavailable for comment.
Secretary of State Ken Bennett said he does not anticipate that the ruling will make any difference in voting next week, since it wasn’t in place when registration closed Oct. 4.
Bennett said the state plans to appeal the ruling, adding he disagrees the documentation sets up a barrier for registration. “I think it’s an outrage and a slap in the face of Arizonans who are concerned about the integrity of elections,” he said.
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