The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments for Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona Monday, March 18. Following closely on the heels of arguments on Shelby County v. Holder, Arizona’s challenge to the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) raises similar questions over federal preemption of state election laws.
The Inter Tribal Council (ITC) of Arizona is a non-profit corporation comprised of representatives from numerous member tribes throughout the state.
The case arose in response to restricting voter rights in Arizona through stronger registration laws. Passed in 2004, Proposition 200 requires proof of citizenship to register to vote and a valid ID in order to cast a ballot at the polls. Tweet it: Tweet
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the proposition, yet conflicts between Arizona’s law and the NVRA passed in 1993, prompted the Supreme Court to take the case late last year.
The proposition reads:
“The County Recorder shall reject any application for registration that is not accompanied by satisfactory evidence of United States citizenship.”
Recognized evidence of citizenship includes:
- A copy of one’s birth certificate
- Naturalization papers
- Military service documents
- Indian Affairs card number, Tribal Treaty card number, or Tribal Enrollment number
‘Satisfactory evidence’ has become the primary concern for opponents of such laws. Federal law already requires that voters verify they are legal citizens with a signature punishable under penalty of perjury, which is a felony. For some, this requirement doesn’t go far enough.
As the primary respondent in the case, the ITC holds that such requirements would disenfranchise American Indians. Many Native Americans do not hold citizenship ID cards. Tweet it: Tweet
The ITC brief state:
“However, Bureau of Indian Affairs cards and tribal treaty cards are not in use in Arizona… Moreover, the Havasupai Tribe and Navajo Nation do not issue tribal enrollment cards, and cards issued by the Hopi Tribe, Yavapai-Apache Nation, and Tonto Apache Tribe do not include enrollment numbers.”
Proponents of citizenship ID laws contend that voter fraud has become a serious threat to election integrity, and states do indeed have the authority, under federal regulations, to enact procedures like Proposition 200.
Detractors like Elisabeth MacNamara, the president of the League of Women Voters, argue that requirements such as mandatory citizenship verification add an unnecessary hurdle to voter registration. Tweet at @LWV: Tweet
MacNamara said in an article Monday:
“The case puts the League’s work of running independent voter registration drives at risk. The NVRA streamlined the myriad state laws that hindered voter registration and citizen-led registration drives, and a decision against the NVRA would leave the voter registration process vulnerable to new forms of political manipulation.”
Additionally, some voters do not have ready access to their citizenship documents, which can hamper voter turnout.
Several non-partisan organizations have filed amicus briefs in support of fewer voter registration restrictions.
The Constitutional Accountability Center, the Brennan Center for Justice, and the League of Women Voters have all weighed in on the law, primarily citing the Elections Clause in the U.S. Constitution as paramount in answering the question of federal preemption over state voting laws.
The Brennan Center argues in their brief:
“[The Founders] made clear that they conferred on Congress the power to “make or alter” state election law in order to protect voting rights in federal elections and allow Congress to set uniform rules for the time, place, and manner of those elections.” Tweet it: Tweet
As the legal fight over voter registration continues, both Arizona v. ITC and Shelby County v. Holder will likely be decided with similar arguments.
Join the discussion Please be relevant and respectful.
The way the govt has dealt with indigenous peoples seems to vary wildly based on region, history, and tribe affiliation, especially when considering Native Alaskans. The myriad of legal twists and turns concerning citizenship not to mention the state sovereignty questions are dizzying to anyone.
Thanks Alex. AK is very unique as you might know. The tribes are very "closed", in the sense that are pretty much geographically unique. Must the same down here but so much more defined. I never heard of any tribe there charging for the (a) test. And frankly I don't know what kid of test it would be. I was very satisfied overall.
As an HRD I was responsible to ensure hiring met legal standards including the I-9. Various villages were very remote. Many natives had no "normal" ID at all. We accepted Tribal Cards. Not sure how it is now. I left in early 2005.
I think it varies with each tribe, some may have principled objections to being given a number by a state that had, perhaps not been so nice, to them or their elders. Others may not be able to afford a card as it is not always free. There seems to be a variety of causes here.
The planet has been poisoned, peak oil production occurred in 2008, the world's reserves are in terminal decline, technology will not step in and keep your high definition flat screen televisions from staying on. In sum, without oil and these other resources which have peaked or are soon to peak, this modern industrial paradise you have created will prove to be a brief anomaly in human history. You will have to go back to living in smaller, hunter-gatherer societies using far less resource consumption and simple barter. Voting will not bring back cheap and abundant energy, peak housing values, and all that other good stuff you non Native people thought would never end. You are going to have to learn to live in balance with nature and show more respect for Mother Earth afterall, just like we did, and the few of us that are still left, do
What a joke voting is on the federal level, will not prevent the US from collapsing in a few years. Peak oil, resource depletion have resulted in the end of growth (that's why you're seeing a world wide recession, one that will never go away) and unsustainable levels of debt because growth cannot be maintained will trigger the next Great Depression. It is already happening. I am half Ojibway, by why any of my friends in AZ would waste their time voting in the first place......it will not make a difference. As a matter of principle I don't think people who were here first should have to prove anything to anyone who came afterwards, but I think most of us know voting is a complete joke and waste of time
I don't hold a citizenship ID card I do however have a picture ID driver's license. There is no citizenship ID card.
I think restrictive voter ID laws affect eligible voters more than it prevents voter fraud. California allows us to register online to vote, I think that'll be one step to helping registration issues.
I do understand the concern of needing identification to vote, it's just like verifying that you're of age. But there should be a solution with less hoops to jump through.
The Progressive Trojan Horse. American Indians have multiple registries. Registry to receive Federal Compensation, Registry as an American Indian, and Registry to receive their percentage of Casino Profits.
@dan, great point...but alot of lower 48 states dont have common sense, we've overriden by political correctness, european values, hatred for country, laziness, socialism, and govt dependency
Since when do native americans care about our government? usually dont they mind thiers and we dont mettle in thier business? and it sounds wierd, because of the voter id thing, because alot of non native americans can pass for native americans and vote twice or three times...
Help me with this. When living in AK in order to receive benefits as Alaskan Natives a tribal card was required. It confirmed a specific blood connection to each tribe. Is that not so for NAs in the lower 48?
You'd think there would be a better solution with the technology today. The arguement for voter ID is a rational concern and makes sense, but the consequences are so sever and would have the effect of denying many legitimate voters the fundamental right to vote ... there has to be a better solution such as on-site verification or something.
Tough issue ... logical to require ID, but the purpose and consequences are not good ... you'd think with technology today there would be a more practical solution soon?
What the heck is the matter with people. Take a little personal responsibility and get what it takes to vote...OR DON"T VOTE. I've had an I.D. all my life. What the hecks the problem. Whats the point of having laws if not everyone has to abide by them. Its pathetic the way some folks want to play victims...like....forever !!!
I think the Federal Gov. has a steak in who votes in a Federal election. I'd like to see all governors and atty. gens. get together and come up with a uniform election code. They won't, because that makes too much sense.
If given plenty of time and information and opportunity as how to and wear to obtain legal identification for free - then why not implement it?
If anyone wants to vote for a federal position like President or U.S. Senator, then the federal government can--and should--require voter identification.
"Does Congress have the authority to set uniform rules over state voting laws in this instance?" Well, we have federal requirements for background checks to buy guns, a Constitutionally protected right, so why not the same requirement for the privilege of voting?