VICTORY: Court Strikes Down Discriminatory Provisions of Anti-Voter Arizona Law
In a victory for Arizona voters, a federal judge struck down last week numerous discriminatory, anti-voter provisions of two recently enacted Arizona laws, H.B. 2492 and H.B. 2243, that undermined Arizonans’ freedom to vote and violated federal law.
Notably, the U.S. District Court’s decision prevents Arizona from rejecting voter registration forms submitted without documentary proof of citizenship, which discriminates against Latino citizens, who already face unique barriers to voting. Voters are already required to attest to their citizenship – under penalty of perjury – to register to vote, and federal law prohibits states from imposing additional requirements to register for federal elections.
The decision also invalidated the requirement that applicants provide documentary proof of their residence when registering to vote. That provision created yet another hurdle for Arizonans, and it was especially burdensome for Native voters who, due to disinvestment in Native communities, are more likely to lack the required documentation.
“Our democracy works best when every voter can participate. Today’s ruling validates that fundamental principle of American democracy,” said Danielle Lang, Senior Director of Voting Rights at Campaign Legal Center. “This is a victory for every Arizonan, but especially for Latino and Native voters who have long faced significant barriers to accessing their fundamental freedom to vote. This much is clear: no voter should be excluded from our democracy just because of where they live or where they are from. We look forward to continuing the fight to defend Arizonans’ freedom to vote on the remaining provisions of these anti-voter laws.”
"The right to vote is a fundamental right that should be accessible to all citizens in this nation. We should be working to make it easier to vote rather than focusing on excluding voters from the democratic process,” said Alejandra Gomez, Executive Director of Living United for Change in Arizona. “Today is a major victory for democracy, and LUCHA will continue its work to defend Arizonans’ right to vote; whether it is in the streets or the courts, we will be present."
"LULAC is winning the battle for voting rights, and this historic decision in Arizona is only the first," said Domingo Garcia, LULAC National President. "Let this be the clarion call for justice in the federal courts of Texas, Iowa, Florida, and anywhere else where election fixers try to deny us our constitutional rights!"
“This court ruling is a resounding victory for the people of Arizona and a reaffirmation of the core principles of our democracy. The striking down of discriminatory provisions in H.B. 2492 and H.B 2243 sends a powerful message; that no one’s right to vote should be infringed upon based on their ethnicity or the documentation they possess” said Sena Mohammed, Executive Director for Arizona Coalition for Change. “We must ensure that every Arizonan, regardless of their background, has an equal and unobstructed path to exercise their fundamental right to vote. This decision is a step towards a more inclusive and just democracy for all.”
“This is another court ruling protecting student voting rights in Arizona.” said Shayna Stevens, Co-Executive Director of the Arizona Students’ Association. “Arizona students deserve to have access to fair voter registration and voting processes without additional barriers to exercising their right to vote. ASA celebrates this ruling as a victory ensuring students have the ability to participate in our Democracy regardless of their background. It is ASA’s hope that this ruling prevents future bills attacking our voting rights; but we are prepared to continue defending all Arizonans’ rights to vote at the state legislature, the ballot box and in the courts.”
It was not until the Snyder Act of 1924 that Native Americans were enfranchised, but not in Arizona. Only through the 1948 case of Porter v. Hall were Arizona tribal members finally able to vote. “Sadly, this was an effort by the legislature to step back in time and make it harder for Native Americans to vote,” said San Carlos Apache Tribe Chairman Terry Rambler. “Disenfranchising voters is wrong and un-American. Fortunately Judge Bolton recognized this fact and our right to vote and be heard remains protected.”
“Too many Arizona voters—particularly voters of color—face significant barriers to exercising their right to vote,” said Courtney Hostetler, Senior Counsel for Free Speech For People. “This ruling removes some of the unlawful hurdles that the challenged laws put in the way of Arizona voters, and demonstrates that no state can deprive voters of the voting rights guaranteed to them by federal law. We celebrate this decision and look forward to challenging the remaining barriers posed by these vote suppression laws.
Campaign Legal Center (CLC), the Department of Justice of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, Barton Mendez Soto PLLC, Free Speech for People and Mayer Brown, LLP filed the lawsuit on behalf of Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Arizona Students’ Association (ASA), Arizona Democracy Resource Center (ADRC), Arizona Coalition for Change (ACC), the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona (ITCA) and the San Carlos Apache Tribe.
The challenged law returned Arizona to its arbitrary ‘dual-registration’ system, where a voter’s right to vote in federal elections is contingent on which form, state or federal, the voter uses to register. The law also prohibited voters who do not produce specific documents from using vote-by-mail or early voting and prevented them from voting in presidential elections at all. Today’s decision prevents Arizona from enforcing those provisions.
The decision also prohibits unlawfully purging voters from the registration rolls within 90 days of an election and rejecting registration forms that do not have the citizenship box ‘checked’-- even if proof of citizenship is submitted.