The US supreme court ruled on Monday that states cannot demand proof of citizenship when prospective voters register to vote. The 7-2 ruling that struck down Arizona's voter-approved requirement that voters prove they are US citizens in order to use a federal registration form, could impact other states with similar laws, including Alabama, Georgia and Kansas. Twelve additional states are contemplating similar legislation. States say the laws were designed to prevent voter fraud, but civil rights groups said the Arizona law was aimed at discouraging certain groups from voting, such as Native Americans, the elderly and minorities.
The case began seven years ago, when Arizona residents, civil rights groups and members of Native American tribes sued to challenge the state measure, Proposition 200, which they said discriminated against eligible voters. Arizona, which shares a border with Mexico, has clashed repeatedly with the federal government over passing tough immigration laws.
Arizona voters approved Proposition 200 in 2004, requiring more specific proof of citizenship. During the next three years, more than 30,000 people were turned away for failing to provide documentation, according to civil rights groups. About 20% of those blocked were Latino. Jon Greenbaum, chief counsel for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, said that the ruling would be particularly welcomed by people who do not carry around identification, including students, Native American Indians and the elderly.
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