Ted Cruz measure would overturn SCOTUS on voter registration

The Supreme Court ruled against an Arizona law requiring proof of citizenship prior to voter registration

Published June 17, 2013 9:36PM (EDT)

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, tweeted that he will be introducing an amendment - attached to the Senate's immigration bill - that would overturn the Supreme Court's Monday decision to strike down an Arizona law that requires voters to prove their citizenship before they can register to vote.

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"The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that the federal 'motor voter' law preempts Arizona’s proof-of-citizenship requirement for voter registration," he explained on his Facebook page. "This hole in federal statutory law allows non-citizens to register and thereby encourages voter fraud. I will file a commonsense amendment to the immigration bill that permits states to require I.D. before registering voters."

The Supreme Court found 7-2 that the law, which the state passed in 2004, is pre-empted by a federal law that provides voters with a form for registration and requires states to “accept and use” the form.

The New York Times explains:

The federal law, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, allows voters to register using a federal form that asks, “Are you a citizen of the United States?” Prospective voters must check a box for yes or no, and they must sign the form, swearing under the penalty of perjury that they are citizens.

The state law, by contrast, required prospective voters to prove that they were citizens by providing copies of or information concerning various documents, including birth certificates, passports, naturalization papers or driver’s licenses, that are available only to people who are in the state lawfully.

Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion, determined that the Arizona law is "inconsistent with" the NVRA's "accept and use" mandate, though he stipulated: "We note, however, that while the NVRA forbids States to demand that an applicant submit additional information beyond that required by the Federal Form, it does not preclude States from 'deny[ing] registration based on information in their possession establishing the applicant’s ineligibility.' The NVRA clearly contemplates that not every submitted Federal Form will result in registration."

By Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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Arizona Supreme Court Ted Cruz Texas Voting Rights