Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Arizona Citizenship Voting Law Struck Down In 9th Circuit

San Francisco – Arizona voters will have to show identification to prove their registration at the polls, but will not be required to prove their citizenship when they register to vote.

The 2-1 federal court ruling came today in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals with former Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor sitting in for the vote.

Plaintiffs challenged the four-year-old state law under the terms of a federal voting rights act that does not require such proof of citizenship when a person registers to vote. They argued that the requirement is unconstitutional. The law was enacted under the terms of a ballot initiative passed by voters in 2004 – Proposition 200 – which was designed to prevent illegal aliens from voting without the legal authority to do so. The Court held that the national voting rights law is paramount over the Arizona state law.

The judicial panel turned down a challenge to voters being required to show identification at the polls. They agreed with attorneys representing Arizona that to require one piece of photo ID or two pieces of non-photo ID does not impose a discriminatory hardship upon Latinos.

Governor Jan Brewer and Secretary of State Ken Bennett, both Republicans, said the ruling that wiped out a state requirement of proof of citizenship to register to vote is “an outrage and a slap in the face to all Arizonans who care about the integrity of their elections.”

According to John Greenbaum, an attorney for the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the state denied registration to an estimated 30,000 people under the proof of citizenship voter registration law during the first four years the law was in effect.

It is too late for any prospective voters to take advantage of the new and relaxed voter registration procedure dictated by the appeals court ruling to register and vote in the 2010 mid-term elections.

Attorneys for the State of Arizona will appear in the 9th Circuit next week to argue for a reversal of a U.S. District Court ruling handed down this past summer that nullified a new state law requiring police officers to detain for further investigation any persons whom they have probable cause and a reasonable suspicion to believe are not in the United States legally.

Opponents of the law persuaded the judge that to do so amounts to “racial profiling,” a discriminatory practice they argued denies people their civil rights because of their ethnicity.

Estimates of the number of illegal aliens living in the nation number as high as 10.8 million. Arizona is a hub location for illegal immigration.

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