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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Arizona Voter Registration Law illegal says court


This article originally appeared on Technorati Arizona Voter Law Illegal, Pierce Cries Foul

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held Arizona’s Proposition 200, which imposes proof of citizenship using a special list of documents in order to register to vote, is in violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). However, the Court upheld the state’s requirement for identification at the polls. The official decision likely comes too late for Latino voters who were prevented from registering to vote for the current election.

Like the deep South years ago, Arizona discouraged minorities from voting. Southern states imposed a minefield of requirements in order for African Americans to vote. Arizona’s Proposition 200 continues this line of discriminatory practices against Hispanics, especially new citizens, said the court.

Ken Bennett and Jan Brewer

“Under the NVRA, prospective voters seeking to register in federal elections need only complete and submit the Federal Form.” the Court ruled. “If this sounds simple, it is by design. Congress enacted the NVRA by…eliminating complicated state-imposed hurdles to registration, which it determined were driving down voter turnout rates. Proposition 200 imposes such a hurdle.” wrote Judge Sandra Ikuta for the Majority opinion.

The Court said a state could come up with it’s own voter registration form. However, it cannot impose additional requirements. Arizona’s proof of citizenship requirement did exactly that, indicated the court.  This PDF of the early Arizona voter registration form asks for a social security number, which is not required to register to vote.

Arizona Secretary of State, Ken Bennett, was unhappy and vowed to appeal.

"If you buy that argument, then I assume they are going to let us go through airports signing a certificate saying that 'I am not a terrorist, I promise I don't have any explosives in my underwear,' '' said Bennett, who was appointed to Governor Jan Brewer's position when Brewer was appointed to take the place of Janet Napolitano. Napolitano resigned as the Arizona governor when she was appointed as Director of Homeland Security by President Obama.

The court said the NVRA has basic protections built into it. One of those protections is a felony charge for perjury against fraudulent registrants and criminal charges against organizations which seek to illegally register unqualified voters.  According to an October 23rd press release, the FBI is vigilant against voter fraud with it's Public Integrity Section.

Promise leaders during voter registration training

Sources with Promise Arizona, a membership organization, which registered over 13,000 voters in Arizona, indicate the organization worked diligently to follow state law. I worked with this organization whose leaders include Petra Falcon and Chris Torres and can attest to their superior ethics.  However, the efforts of Promise Arizona were limited by Proposition 200, which tacitly is helping conservatives continue their dominion over Hispanics and other minorities. 

Russell Pearce claims 65% of the last minute voter registration forms submitted in Yuma, Arizona, by Mi Familia Vota and One Arizona are invalid. They have invalid addresses, false signatures or the person registering is not a U.S. citizen. After making the allegation, Pearce used the balance of his web page to urge voter donations for candidates he supports.

Pearce said: “I am going to pursue this matter, the State Legislator has full investigative powers and I will not let this rest. I will be pursuing for a full investigation and if violations are found, I will push for aggressive prosecution with jail time imposed.”

According to the Mi Familia Vota website, the claims by Pearce are false.  They insist all of the hullabaloo is yet another attempt to disenfranchise Latino voters. 

Some say an easy solution to the problem is to invite all of the parties to the dance.  If a leader were to come forward and advocate comprehensive immigration reform, Tom Tancredo from Colorado, for example, that leader would gain immediate support and go down in history.  There must be room for Hispanics to take leadership, as well. 

Meanwhile, so long as Latinos are excluded from their role in shaping the future of Arizona, and the nation, we will remain a nation divided.  The battles will continue. 

The 9th circuit decision affects federal elections.  Since Arizona combines both federal and state elections, it would be difficult to apply the voter registration law to federal candidates only.  In addition, if the state insists on upholding Proposition 200, the law will likely be challenged at a state level, as well.

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