9th Circuit Nixes Arizona’s Proof of Citizenship Requirement, Upholds Voter ID

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that an Arizona proposition requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote was in conflict with the National Voter Registration Act but upheld a portion of the constitutional amendment which requires a form of photo identification at the polls.

Proposition 200 required citizens to show a birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers to apply to register to vote, a process the Ninth Circuit said was in “discordant with the NVRA’s goal of streamlining the registration process.”

“Even if an applicant were aware of Arizona’s requirement to provide documentary proof of citizenship with the Federal Form, the applicant would have to locate the required document, photocopy it, and enclose the photocopy with the form in an envelope for mailing. In short, much of the value of the Federal Form in removing obstacles to the voter registration process is lost under Proposition 200’s registration provision,” the ruling stated.

But requiring voters to show identification at the polls, the court found, “does not constitute a tax.”

Michael Slater, executive director of Project Vote, called the ruling “a major victory for voting rights in the state of Arizona” and the law “has a chilling effect on voter registration, making the process less accessible and less convenient for Americans.”

Jon Greenbaum, chief counsel for the Lawyers’ Committee, said in a statement that they were “elated that a strong majority of the en banc panel found Arizona’s citizenship requirement violated the NVRA” and said the ruling would “enable our clients to be able to register to vote and conduct voter registration drives more easily.”

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