Voter Registration: Proof of Citizenship Not Required
Another day, another Ninth Circuit decision. The case of Gonzalez v. Arizona involves an Arizona law which, in a typical display of bad manners asks people to show proof of citizenship to register to vote, and then asks people to bring ID with them to the polling place. First the good news, the 9th Circuit actually agreed with the trial court that the polling place ID requirement is okay.
But when it comes to voter registration, the Court struck down the proof of citizenship requirement as inconsistent with federal law - the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, which creates a "federal form" for voter registration. The federal form does not require proof of citizenship. Granted, the Constitution does give Congress the last word on regulation of federal elections:
The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators. (Art. I, Section 4).
But the point of this clause was to allow Congress to intervene if the States somehow rigged their election system in a way that threatened the Union. Hard to believe that the clause prevents states from adopting more stringent measures to enforce what is already federal law (i.e., that only citizens can vote in federal elections). But then, as we've seen in the immigration context, the feds don't like it when States do their job for them.