Arizona and Kansas Exploit Supreme Court Loophole

    October 12, 2013

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court struck down an Arizona law that required voters to present proof of their United States citizenship in order to vote in local as well as federal elections.

The New York Times reports that Arizona has agreed to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling, even though the state has planned to join Kansas in the utilization of a loophole the Court left open. In their decision, the Justices indicated that although Congress’ power over federal elections was paramount, the same power does not apply to state elections.

Kansas and Arizona are, together, suing the Election Assistance Commission under the argument that federal voter registrations should demand proof of citizenship. Arizona attorney general Tom Horne said of the demands for proof that “If you require evidence of citizenship, it helps prevent people who are not citizens from voting, and I simply don’t see a problem with that.”

On Monday, Horne told Arizona election officials that separate voter rolls should be created for those who filled out the state form and those who filled out the federal form In what would be called a “two-tiered system.” A separate ballot would be used for federal elections where citizenship proof is not required, while state elections would require that proof. Democrats had hoped the increased turnout would continue a push to retake local offices from Republicans, who have been the main policy-makers in recent years.

The executive director of Promise Arizona in Action, Petra Falcón, said of the new system that “It’s another veiled attempt at discouraging young voters, low-income voters, Latino voters from entering the electoral process.” On the other side, spokesperson Matt Roberts, speaking for Arizona secretary of state Ken Bennett, said “We have a hard enough time already to get people to go to the right voting place… The last thing any poll worker wants is to have to tell someone who might be voting for the first time why they can’t vote for governor.” Roberts added that Bennett is a proponent of requiring proof of citizenship for all elections.

This development is the latest in the political jousting match over voting rights since the 2012 presidential election. Where Democrats would seek to make voting easier and increase turnout among the minority groups that make up their base, Republicans would require proof of citizenship.

If you want to read the full Times story, you can find it here.

[Image via an ABC News YouTube report from last year about the illegal immigration problem]