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Supreme Court deciding if you need to prove citizenship to vote

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 18th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A law intended to prevent voter fraud in a state where illegal immigrants make a substantial portion of the population goes before the Supreme Court today as activists claim the law is intended to intimidate and discourage naturalized citizens from voting.

WASHINGTON DC (Catholic Online) - The law, known as Proposition 200, requires residents to submit proof of citizenship when they register to vote. Opponents claim the law "requires naturalized citizens -- predominantly Latinos and Asians -- to surmount additional and unique hurdles to exercise their fundamental right to vote."

Federal law already requires voters to demonstrate or declare citizenship when voting, however Arizona's law goes further and requires such proof at the time of registration. It is possible that someone can register to vote by mail, and then by absentee ballot and avoid any test of citizenship beyond signing a declaration on their forms and ballots. Although the oath on those forms is signed under the penalty of perjury, such cases are rarely prosecuted since voter fraud appears to be rare in the U.S.

However, it is uncertain just how rare voter fraud is because authorities have rarely investigated it as a phenomenon in the U.S.

While across the country, voters can sign up and vote without ever showing up in person, anywhere, Arizona's Proposition 200 changes that and requires a registering voter to show up in person and provide proof of citizenship. This, opponents argue, is intimidating to naturalized citizens.

Is it really, and why should it be?

These are questions that the Supreme Court may consider when evaluating the case.

Another important argument has to do with the Constitutional right of states to determine how they manage elections. The Constitution allows states to set their own rules and guidelines for elections, however Congress passed a law, a decade ago, requiring all states to treat an application for a driver's license as a registration to vote.

Ultimately, the Arizona law requires naturalized citizens to show up in person to register, which opponents of the law say is an unjust burden.

Supporters of the law say it is necessary to ensure that all the votes they count are legal votes. Since Arizona has a substantial population of illegal immigrants, it is possible for them to sway the outcome of an election by voting en masse, illegally.

Other states with similar laws, including Alabama, Georgia, and Kansas have joined Arizona in promoting the law.

The final ruling will come before July.

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