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Arizona: Federal Court Blocks Enforcement of Voter ID Law PDF  | Print |  Email
By Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA   
October 06, 2006

Civil Rights Organizations Praise Decision - Secretary of State Will Appeal

A month before the general election, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has blocked the enforcement of an Arizona law that requires voters to show identification before casting a ballot and submit proof of citizenship when registering to vote. The court order in Gonzalez v. Arizona granted an emergency motion to stop the law from going into effect. Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer (pictured at right) has directed State Attorney General Terry Goddard to seek an immediate reversal of this decision on appeal.

The law came into effect as a result of the passage of Proposition 200 in 2004. The law altered Arizona election law by (1) requiring citizens to present documentary proof of citizenship in order to register to vote, and (2) imposing a restrictive identification requirement as a condition of casting a ballot at the polls. The law had been in effect during Arizona's September primary election after a district judge had issued an order rejecting voters' request to stop these requirements from taking effect.

Voter ID laws have met considerable resistance from civil rights organizations that have called Proposition 200 a 21st century poll tax for those voters who cannot meet its strict and unnecessary requirements by requiring that voters purchase acceptable forms of identification. Similar voter identification provisions in Georgia, Missouri and other states have been struck down in court.


Ralph G. Neas, President of the People For the American Way Foundation, commented in response to the court’s ruling, ”This is a major victory for Arizonans and for all Americans who care about the right to vote. Before this ruling, many citizens might have been denied the chance to cast their vote in November. Now we have a month to make sure voters know their rights and are confident that they won’t be unfairly turned away at the polls.”

Barbara R. Arnwine, Executive Director of the Lawyers' Committee said in a statement released this morning, "Proposition 200 is both unnecessary and discriminatory. Today the 9th Circuit honored our country's democratic constitutional promise by removing an otherwise insurmountable roadblock to tens of thousands of eligible Arizona citizens.”

In a press release, Brewer noted, “This is very alarming to have the Court of Appeals in San Francisco stay these voting measures as passed by the people of Arizona.” Added Secretary Brewer, “the fact is we very successfully implemented identification at the polls during September's Primary Election without a hitch,” added Brewer “given our recent success of ID at the polls, the timing of this decision could not be worse. I can't help but be very concerned about the extreme confusion this will potentially create in re-training poll workers and re-educating the general public so close to the upcoming General Election.”

Election law specialist Dan Tokaji has noted that Arizona's deadline for registering to vote is 29 days before the election, giving Arizonans not yet registered only until this coming Monday, October 9. Tokaji questioned "the status of those registration forms that were previously rejected due to failure to comply with the now-enjoined rules."
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