Federal Elections Protected From States by Court Defeat of Arizona’s Vile Voter Registration Law
Democracy, elections and voting at Democracy Chronicles
There was a big breakthrough in Arizona today when a court struck down onerous and unnecessary voter registration laws. Project Vote, a great organization that was involved in the successful effort, has a write-up about the case. The law is hopefully a precedent for courts around the country to shut down other attempts to distort elections by local leaders. Project vote sums up the case:
After a six-year legal battle in a lawsuit brought by voting rights groups on behalf of numerous individuals and civil rights organizations, Arizona’s Proposition 200, which requires proof of citizenship for voter registration, was rejected by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today on the grounds that the law is in direct conflict with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).
The case is said to have set a major precedent for Arizona going forward. Also, the case confirms the Federal control over elections at the federal level so that individual States do not have the power to change registration laws. However, this does not have much to do with elections within Arizona at the local and State level that (if a six-year court case is any indication) are probably pretty terrible by national standards.
“This is a major victory for voting rights in the state of Arizona,” says 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. This decision is strong affirmation of Congress’s commitment, expressed in law, to remove unnecessary barriers to voting,” says Karl J. Sandstrom, Project Vote’s pro bono attorney and author of an amicus brief in the case.
The entire case is a reminder of how important the laws of individual States are to election laws. Federal elections are regulated by the US Congress but State and local are determined by 50 different legislatures. If we are to fix election laws going forward, we are going to need a very broad and determined effort. If you have any ideas or comments, we would love to hear from you. We always respond!