Federal Court Halts Arizona’s Harmful Voter ID Law

Affiliate: ACLU of Arizona
October 5, 2006 12:00 am

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Proposition 200 Will Not Apply to November Elections

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PHOENIX – The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona today announced today the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order that will enjoin Arizona from implementing Proposition 200’s voter ID requirements in connection with the upcoming November 7 elections.

“This court ruling means that thousands of eligible voters who would have been turned away from the polls because of this misguided and unnecessary law will now be able to exercise their fundamental right to vote in this upcoming election,” said Alessandra Soler Meetze, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arizona, which has joined a coalition of groups challenging Proposition 200.

According to the ACLU, the court’s ruling will help ensure the fundamental right to vote for tens of thousands of Arizonans who otherwise would have faced unnecessary barriers to full participation in federal and state elections. It will remain in effect until the court considers an appeal that will be decided after the election.

Passed in 2004, Proposition 200 dramatically altered Arizona election law by requiring citizens to present documentary proof of citizenship in order to register to vote, and by imposing a restrictive identification requirement as a condition of casting a ballot at the polls. For those voters who cannot meet its strict and unnecessary requirements, Proposition 200 imposes a 21st century poll tax by requiring that voters purchase acceptable forms of identification.

By creating a price tag to vote, Proposition 200’s unconstitutional burden disproportionately disenfranchised Arizona’s minority voters, Native Americans, the elderly, the disabled and students, said the ACLU. In addition, women who have changed their names, citizens who use a P.O. Box, and people who have moved but not received new identification may have been prevented from voting in the election. Notably, no one has ever uncovered an incident in Arizona of the kind of voting fraud that the polling identification requirement would prevent, i.e., someone impersonating a registered voter at the polls.

Proposition 200’s proof of citizenship requirement has already blocked nearly 21,000 Arizonans from registering to vote, the ACLU found during discovery. The court’s order enjoins Proposition 200’s registration proof of citizen requirements so that eligible voters can register before the October 9 registration deadline, and enjoins Proposition 200’s polling place identification requirements so that citizens can vote in this year’s critical mid-term election.

The plaintiffs who filed the emergency motion with the 9th Circuit are the Intertribal Council of Arizona, Inc., the League of Women Voters of Arizona, the Hopi Tribe, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Arizona Advocacy Network, the People For the American Way Foundation, and Rep. Steve M. Gallardo, and are represented by the law firms of Osborn Maledon and Steptoe & Johnson LLP, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the American Civil Liberties Union Southern Regional Office, AARP Foundation Litigation, People For the American Way Foundation and Sparks, Tehan & Ryley.

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