Today, Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05), along with Arizona Representatives Gosar (AZ-04), Schweikert (AZ-06), and Franks (AZ-08), introduced legislation that grants states the flexibility and authority to ask for additional documents to prove U.S. citizenship while registering to vote. Salmon's latest bill comes on the heels of Monday's U.S. Supreme Court decision on the voter registration case, Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, in which the high court ruled that Arizona's Proposition 200 is pre-empted by the National Voter Registration Act's mandate that all states "accept and use" the federal form. Salmon released the following statement regarding his legislation:
"One of the greatest privileges and responsibilities of a U.S. citizen is the right to vote. For these reasons, it is critical that we uphold the integrity of our voter registration system by ensuring only U.S. citizens are permitted to cast a ballot. In light of yesterday's Supreme Court decision, I felt compelled to introduce legislation that ensures states have the right to ultimately decide for themselves whether or not to require additional documentary evidence to prove U.S. citizenship."
In 2004, the State of Arizona passed Proposition 200 that would require documentary evidence of citizenship to accompany the federal voter registration form. This law was in response to the federal registration form requiring only that an applicant for voter registration attest to his or her citizenship with a signature. Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, and Tennessee have similar voting requirements. Twelve other states are contemplating such legislation.
The Supreme Court decision was focused on the requirement of section 6(a) of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (42 U.S.C. 1973gg-4(a)) that a state "accept and use" the federal mail form, as opposed to the provisions addressing the actual contents of that form. The Court ruled that federal election laws trump state laws in this case.
While the Supreme Court stipulated that states cannot add additional identification requirements to the federal forms on their own, the majority opinion indicated that if granted the authority by the federal government, states can add additional requirements for voter registration. Salmon's bill grants states this flexibility by amending the section to permit states to require additional information as a condition of the acceptance of the federal form.