MALDEF Wins Ninth Circuit Decision Overturning Onerous Arizona Voter Registration Law

Court ruling comes one week before a critical national election and stands as a warning to anyone who seeks to deter or prevent voter participation

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MALDEF welcomed the Ninth Circuit's ruling in Gonzalez v. State of Arizona, striking down an Arizona law that restricted voter registration. MALDEF had challenged 2004 law, also known as Proposition 200, as unconstitutional and in violation of federal law because the law forced voters to meet onerous new identification requirements at the polls and imposed unnecessary paperwork requirements on those seeking to register to vote.

The ruling concluded that Prop 200's voter registration provision is unconstitutional because it is inconsistent with federal law guaranteeing uniform voter registration procedures throughout the U.S. In its decision, the Ninth Circuit explained that the National Voter Registration Act, a comprehensive law enacted by Congress to combat discriminatory and onerous state voter registration schemes, supersedes Prop 200's additional documentation requirements. The Ninth Circuit concluded that the district court did not err in upholding the polling place voter identification provisions of Prop 200.

In response to the ruling, MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz remarked, "This welcome decision, auspiciously coming one week before a critical national election, stands as a warning to anyone who seeks to deter or prevent voter participation -- whether through overreaching legislation as in Arizona or through more informal attempts at intimidation -- that our Constitution will protect our democratic process."

Nina Perales, National Senior Counsel and lead counsel in the case, stated, "Today's ruling is an important vindication of federal law. No longer will thousands of U.S. citizens in Arizona be rejected for voter registration by an unconstitutional scheme that conflicts with federal law."

MALDEF filed this case on behalf of individual voters and voter registration applicants as well as the following organizations: Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, Valle del Sol, Friendly House, Chicanos Por La Causa, the Arizona Hispanic Community Forum, ACORN, Project Vote, and Common Cause. Danny Ortega, of the law firm of Roush, McCracken, Guerrero, Miller & Ortega, and Karl Sandstrom of Perkins Coie are co-counsel with MALDEF in the case.

For more information on MALDEF's significant victory, please see selected articles below:

New York Times

San Francisco Chronicle

Bloomberg Businessweek

Arizona Republic

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