A Victory for Reclaiming Government for the People Arizona's restrictive voter registration law ruled illegal by 9th Circuit


Phoenix, AZ. ­- In December, 2004, Arizona Advocacy Network (AZAN) brought together national and state resources to challenge Prop. 200, which the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found yesterday violated Arizona citizens' right to register and vote.


Arizona Advocacy Network was instrumental, but not alone, in organizing this successful effort to protect every citizen's right to register and vote. "Just as we demonstrated in recent victories to protect Arizona's Clean Elections law, building a strong coalition is important to protecting the rights of citizens," Sam Wercinski for AZAN said. "Thank you and congratulations to all the plaintiffs, to Jon Greenbaum and Nina Perales who argued the case and to the scores of others who own this victory. It's another step to reclaiming government for the People."


In a statement yesterday, The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL), who represented the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Arizona Advocacy Network and other plaintiffs, framed the victory succinctly: "In a decision of national significance, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today ruled that voter registration provisions of Arizona's Proposition 200 violate the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA).   The ruling blocks an unnecessary and burdensome requirement for voter registration that could prevent eligible citizens from exercising their fundamental right to vote."


"Today's ruling vindicates all the U.S. citizens who were improperly rejected for voter registration in Arizona," stated Nina Perales, Vice President of Litigation for MALDEF. She represented one group of plaintiffs (Gonzalez et al v. State of Arizona) while Jon Greenbaum, chief counsel for the Lawyers' Committee, argued on behalf of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Arizona Advocacy Network and several other plaintiffs (Inter Tribal Council of Arizona et al v. State of Arizona).  Greenbaum stated "This will enable our clients to be able to register to vote and conduct voter registration drives more easily." "Just as those who choose to vote by mail attest with only their signature that it is indeed themselves voting, so will citizens again be able to register to vote with this same standard of scrutiny," added Wercinski.


In 2010, a three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit, which included Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, found in favor of the same group of plaintiffs. The State of Arizona, Governor Brewer and Secretary of State Bennett pleaded to the full bench (en banc), to hear the appeal again, which it did in June 2011. Arizona AG Tom Horne argued for the state unsuccessfully. The full court of eleven judges held yesterday in a 9-2 decision, that "Arizona's rejection of every Federal Form submitted without proof of citizenship does not constitute 'accepting and using' the Federal Form" and upheld Congress' powers to set voter registration laws that will not infringe on the rights of all eligible citizens to vote.


The two challenges to Prop. 200 are referred to as Inter Tribal Council of Arizona v. State of Arizona, No. 08-17115 and Jesus Gonzalez v. State of Arizona, No. 08-17094.

Read the entire decision here