PHOENIX— Arizona Advocacy Network and fellow plaintiffs on Tuesday will commemorate the one-year anniversary of the victorious U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down unnecessary paperwork requirements that prevented at least 30,000 eligible Arizonans from registering to vote in a three year period. On June 17, 2013 the Supreme Court ruled in ITCA v Arizona that these barriers could no longer be imposed on citizens registering with the federal form, in use since 1993. Despite this victory, politicians have not stopped their attacks on the voting rights of Arizona citizens, according to Sam Wercinski, Executive Director of Arizona Advocacy Network.
“A year ago, we won a significant victory for voters in Arizona and across the nation,” Wercinski said. “Yet powerful politicians continue to attack Americans’ right to vote.”
Shane Lewis, President of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona said “Our victory in ITCA v. Arizona ensures that all citizens of Arizona should have equal access to voting. If American Indian citizens cannot participate in the state electoral process—if they cannot vote—then the principles of democracy are seriously weakened.”
Wercinski added that these attacks are clear in the 2014 Elections Procedures Manual and the convoluted explanation of a new system that creates second class voters. “Five attorneys analyzed the 2014 Elections Procedures Manual and all agree that there are conflicting procedures. These could lead to poll worker confusion, large numbers of provisional ballots and long lines. How are voters expected to understand the rules to vote if attorneys can’t?” Wercinski said.
Between enactment of these unnecessary paperwork requirements in 2005 and the initial trial in 2008, records show at least 30,000 eligible Arizonans had their voter registrations rejected because they could not produce the paperwork required by the state legislature. In August 2012, Arizona Advocacy Network and co-plaintiffs won a temporary court order requiring election officials to accept the federal voter registration form as intended. Nearly 12,000 Arizonans registered in sixty days before the deadline using this form who otherwise may not have been able to vote. None of the registrants were challenged as being ineligible, validating the secure use of the federal form and process.
The federal form requires citizens to prove their eligibility by providing their full name, address, date of birth, social security number or other government issued ID. All registrants must swear under penalty of perjury and imprisonment that they are eligible to vote. If a person is not verifiable through state and federal databases, they must vote in person and present ID at the polls. They cannot vote by mail. While partisan politicians insist fraud is a problem, the facts show that Arizona has a history of politicians rigging the system for their own benefit but no voter registration fraud.
State Senator Andrea Dalessandro said, “As a Clean Elections candidate, my focus is on voters, not donors. Striking down unnecessary paperwork barriers is a significant win, but many politicians continue attacking voters. Clearly, these politicians and their big money supporters fear an increase in eligible citizens voting.”
State Representative Debbie McCune Davis, another strong voting rights advocate added, “Politicians in the pockets of big money know they don’t have the support and trust of voters. Every time advocates score a win for voting rights, these politicians move the goal line. It’s time all elected officials focus on voters, not increasing the power of donors.”
In August 2013, Kansas and Arizona politicians filed a new lawsuit against voters to circumvent the victory secured just months earlier. Arizona Advocacy Network and fellow plaintiffs intervened in Kobach v EAC to defend the use of the federal form without more paperwork requirements. On May 19, 2014, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with advocates and blocked the two states from imposing unnecessary paperwork requirements again. Oral arguments are scheduled for August 25, a day before the Arizona primary election.