TUCSON, Arizona – Activists in Arizona are expressing concern over how the U.S. Supreme Court may rule after reviewing the constitutionality of Prop 200, a state law that demands that voters prove that they are U.S. citizens before registering to vote or casting a ballot.
“Although this law was approved in Arizona in 2004, we’re seeing a phenomenon throughout the country where rules have been implemented to make the process of voting more difficult, using fraud as an excuse,” Alessandra Soler, the ACLE chief in Arizona, told Efe.
The nine magistrates of the Supreme Court earlier had rejected the request by the Arizona government to block a federal appellate panel ruling against Prop 200.
While Proposition 200 was approved in a referendum in 2004, it is anticipated that the definitive ruling by the high court will come after the Nov. 6 elections.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said in its ruling that federal law takes precedence over the Arizona state law.
Soler said that so far nobody has been charged in Arizona with voter fraud.
“This is a law for a crime that does not exist,” she emphasized.
Current federal law allows Americans to register to vote by mail using a federal form provided that they declare truthfully under oath, or face fines, that they are citizens.
The Arizona law, however, demands that each voter include proof of citizenship with their voter registration documents.
Soler said that at first, when this rule entered into force in Arizona, about 30,000 people who had registered to vote had to refile their registration requests because they did not fulfill the requirements.
Meanwhile, Isabel Garcia, the director of the Arizona Human Rights Coalition, told Efe that people are afraid that the Supreme Court could reverse the decision rendered by the 9th Circuit.
“This (Prop 200) is a sign of racism, an attempt to reduce the participation of minority voters,” Garcia said.
Garcia added that for many years people have been fighting to defend the right to vote and access to voting, and she said that she felt this is an obstacle to prevent their participation in the political process.
Other voices have been raised across the country saying that Prop 200 is only designed to suppress or discourage voting by minorities.
A report released on Sept. 24 by the Advancement Project civic group warned that, because of legal barriers in 23 states, more than 10 million Latinos could be deprived of their right to vote. EFE