Posted by on June 18, 2013 in Blog

On Monday, the Supreme Court issued a key decision on voting rights. By a 7-2 margin, the Court said that Arizona cannot require new voters to present proof of citizenship before being added to the voting rolls. In its decision, the Court held that the Arizona requirement was “inconsistent with” the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which requires that states accept and use the federal form. The federal form allows applicants to mail in their registration forms, simply swearing that they are U.S. citizens eligible to vote.

The Arizona requirement was one of a spate of state initiatives supposedly aimed at combatting voter fraud. In fact and practice, however, many of these state proposals made it more difficult for eligible individuals to register and vote—and disproportionately impacted minorities and low-income Americans. In 2013 alone, 82 bills have been introduced in 31 states with the aim of restricting voting rights. Little wonder, then, that voting rights advocates are hailing the Court’s decision as a key victory. But in fact, this doesn’t mean the issue is closed.

Arizona could request that the federal forms be changed and/or that the federal government approve its state forms. Gov. Jan Brewer did just that in 2005; however, a split decision by the Election Assistance Commission resulted in the EAC rejecting the request. But recently, the EAC approved the state of Louisiana’s request requiring additional documentation for registrants without a driver’s license, Social Security card or other identification. With that precedent, it’s possible that the EAC would approve a second request from Arizona.

AAI will continue to track voter rights issues and keep you apprised of what’s happening in your state. For the latest state-specific information on registration requirements and deadlines, races, issues, and more, click here.

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