U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Arizona Barrier to Voting
Arizona Advocacy Network organized, steered legal challenge for eight years.
Phoenix– Today, the United States Supreme Court struck down an unnecessary and unfair voter registration barrier that had been imposed on Arizona citizens since 2005. Voting Rights advocates nationwide are celebrating the high courts’ decision, which will help to stop similar efforts to make it harder for Americans to register to vote.
In 2005, Arizona Advocacy Network organized a group of plaintiffs that successfully challenged the state’s voter registration barriers created under Prop 200 (Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. (ITCA) v Bennett, No. 08-17115). Prop 200 instituted additional requirements to register to vote beyond those required in the Federal 1993 National Voter Registration Act, commonly referred to as the “Motor Voter law.” Civic engagement groups that register voters have regained a valuable tool for citizens wanting to exercise their right to vote.
Sam Wercinski, Executive Director of Arizona Advocacy Network said “Clearly, politicians want to make it harder to vote, as we continue to see with anti-voter laws like HB2305, being passed the legislature last week. Today, however, we and fellow plaintiffs won an eight year battle to protect the most basic right necessary for a government of, by and for the People. Politicians supported by big money interests, like ALEC, lost today while civic engagement groups, like those in the One Arizona Coalition, scored a big win.”
State Senator Steve Gallardo added, “The well-funded, out-of-state propaganda machine that used false fears about the integrity of our elections lost today. We will remain vigilant though and continue to fight measures like those passed in HB2305, which make it harder to vote for Arizona citizens.”
Dr. Doris Marie Provine, Board President of the Arizona Advocacy Network, said, “The Supreme Court’s decision today strengthens our democracy and will ripple positively through the nation. We’re very grateful for the legal representation provided by Osborn Maledon PA, Steptoe Johnson LLP, Sparks Law Firm PC, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.”
Between the time Prop 200 was implemented and the trial in 2008, at least 31,000 voter registration applications were rejected in Arizona (state and federal) because they did not meet the additional requirements. After plaintiffs won a court order requiring election officials to accept the federal voter registration form in August 2012, over 12,000 Arizonans registered in the remaining 60 days who otherwise would not have qualified under the state’s requirements. Most of these registrants were first-time college, high school and Latino voters located in the competitive congressional districts 1, 2 and 9.
Mike Valder, Board President Emeritus, stressed that “Since forming in 2002, voting rights have been central to our mission of empowering citizens to achieve government of, by and for the People. Free, fair and accessible elections are always under attack by powerful forces and so our work remains extremely important and relevant for all Americans who value a strong democracy.”
The Arizona Advocacy Network holds their annual breakfast, Acknowledging Arizona Advocates, on August 14th. They will be celebrating today’s victory. Breakfast details can be found at www.AZadvocacy.org. Interested sponsors and hosts should call 602-297-2500.