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Apr 17 / Project Vote

Court Rejects Arizona’s Proof of Citizenship Requirement for Voter Registration

Today, an 11-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Arizona’s restrictive election law that required voter applicants to present documentary proof of citizenship to be registered to vote.

By a 9-2 vote, the en banc panel ruled that the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 supersedes the state’s restrictive election law, Proposition 200. The NVRA states that voter registration forms “may not include any requirement for notarization or other formal authentication.” Proposition 200 required election officials to reject applications that did not include documentation proving citizenship.

“This is a major victory for voting rights in the state of Arizona,” said Michael Slater, executive director of Project Vote, which was a plaintiff in the case, Gonzales v. Arizona. “This law has a chilling effect on voter registration, making the process less accessible and less convenient for Americans. The court agrees that Proposition 200 is in conflict with federal law, and we applaud the decision.”

“Notably, the court also based its decision on the broad policy goal of the NVRA, which was to streamline the process of voter registration,” explains Estelle Rogers, legislative director for Project Vote. “When the NVRA created the federal form in 1993, it was designed as a post card to be as easy as possible to use. The court emphasized that Proposition 200, if enforced, erected the very kinds of obstacles to voter registration that the NVRA was designed to break down.”

The other requirement of Proposition 200 at issue in the case, that voters show certain kinds of identification documents upon voting, was upheld in today’s decision.

“Project Vote is proud to have participated in important case,” said Slater. “We extend our thanks and hearty congratulations to all of plaintiffs’ counsel, particularly Nina Perales, Jon Greenbaum, and Bob Kengle.”

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