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Supreme Court determines state voter law violates federal law

This time of year, many anxiously await the United States Supreme Court's rulings on cases covering a wide range of legal topics. This year one of the cases the court heard concerns U.S. immigration matters. Though the case was based in another state, the decision is likely of interest to many throughout the nation including the Miami area.

The case concerned the state’s requirement that potential voters provide proof that they were citizens of the nation before being able to register to vote. The requirement had been in place in Arizona for close to 10 years. In a 7-2 vote, the court determined the requirement was in violation of federal law.

More specifically, the Arizona law, that required either a birth certificate or passport to show citizenship, was deemed to violate a federal statute that did not necessitate proof of any kind. Instead, individuals who registered to vote while obtaining a driver's license only needed to provide their signature on a form indicating they were in fact eligible to cast a vote in an election in the U.S. In support of the decision the opinion pointed out that it is up to Congress to create election laws. A requirement such as the one placed upon prospective voters in Arizona infringed upon that.

The voter law, which was approved by voters in the state in 2004, was apparently an effort by the state to deal with what it believes is a lack of effort on the federal level to address the presence of undocumented individuals in Arizona.

It is likely that state of Arizona will take action in response to the decision. It can ask the federal Election Assistance Commission for permission to change the uniform voter registration that is used throughout the country. Should that request be denied, the state could sue. There is likely more to come on this matter.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Top Court Quashes Arizona Voter Law," Jess Bravin and Tamara Audi, June 17, 2013

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