Although the Supreme Court ruled, 7-2, in June that states may not require proof of citizenship for those registering to vote in federal elections, Arizona’s Attorney General has determined that those requirements may still be enforced for state and local elections.
In 2004, Arizona voters passed Proposition 200, the “Arizona Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act.” The measure required that all residents registering to vote provide documentary evidence, proving their U.S. citizenship.
Opponents challenged the law in federal court, arguing that the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (commonly known as the “motor voter” law) requires that all states “accept and use” a standard federal form to register voters for federal elections. Justice Antonin Scalia agreed and, with six colleagues, held that Arizona’s law was “pre-empted” by the federal statute. As a result, Arizona must allow anyone who properly registers using the federal form to vote in federal elections — with or without proof of citizenship.
Monday, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne (R), in an advisory opinion, said that the state can keep those who do not provide proof of citizenship from voting in state and local elections — as long as it provides a separate “federal election only” ballot for other registered voters. These second-class voters, Horne said, would not only be disenfranchised from state and local elections, but would also be unable to sign any candidate, initiative, referendum, or recall petitions for state and local matters.
Experts have noted that Native American and Latino-American citizens are hit hardest by the Proposition 200 requirements, as many do not have the documentary evidence required to prove eligibility.
DJ Quinlan, executive director of the Arizona Democratic Party, blasted the opinion, saying Horne’s “latest legal theory tests the boundaries of absurdity and vindictiveness.”
“By recommending a two-track voting system,” Quinlan argued, “Horne will be creating a group of second-class voters in Arizona. This will also create another confusing layer of bureaucracy to our voting system and potentially cost Arizona taxpayers millions of dollars.”