Barred by the Supreme Court from requiring proof of citizenship for federal elections, Arizona is complying — but setting up a separate registration system for local and state elections that will demand such proof. The state this week joined Kansas in planning for such a two-tiered voting system, which could keep thousands of people from participating in state and local elections, including next year’s critical cycle, when top posts in both states will be on the ballot. The states are using an opening left in June by the United States Supreme Court when it said that the power of Congress over federal elections was paramount but did not rule on proof of citizenship in state elections. Such proof was required under Arizona’s Proposition 200, which passed in 2004 and is one of the weapons in the border state’s arsenal of laws enacted in its battle against illegal immigration. The two states are also jointly suing the federal Election Assistance Commission, arguing that it should change the federal voter registration form for their states to include state citizenship requirements. While the agency has previously denied such requests, the justices said the states could try again and seek judicial review of those decisions. “If you require evidence of citizenship, it helps prevent people who are not citizens from voting, and I simply don’t see a problem with that,” said Tom Horne, the Arizona attorney general.
The battle over voting is part of a larger struggle between the two parties. Democrats have sought to make voting easier and to increase participation among minority groups that tend to support them. Republicans have sought to require more proof of citizenship and to increase identification requirements, saying they are fighting potential fraud.
The two-tiered system — deemed costly, cumbersome and prone to confusion by many of its opponents, as well as election officials in both states — threatens to derail an effort by Democrats and their allies to increase voter registration and turnout among Latinos and the poor, part of a push by the party to pick up local offices and seats in the states’ legislatures, where policies have been largely dictated by Republicans in recent years. The states would create separate ballots covering only federal races for voters who do not provide proof of citizenship.
“It’s another veiled attempt at discouraging young voters, low-income voters, Latino voters from entering the electoral process,” said Petra Falcón, executive director ofPromise Arizona in Action, one of the groups leading voter-registration efforts here.
Full Article: 2 States Plan 2-Tier System for Balloting – NYTimes.com.