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Mee Moua

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The Right to Vote, Under Attack

Posted: 03/19/2013 6:19 pm

Weeks after the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that would disenfranchise minority voters (Shelby County v Eric Holder), it hears oral arguments for another case where another state legislature, this time Arizona's, is also trying to block citizens from exercising their constitutional right to vote.

The high court hears oral arguments today in Arizona v. ITCA, a case that challenges Arizona's burdensome voting-related provisions of Proposition 200 that was adopted in November 2004.

Both cases are critical to ensuring Asian Americans can exercise their right to vote and support the emergence of this burgeoning electorate. More than one-third of Arizonans are Latino or Asian American. A majority of the state's naturalized citizens of voting age are Latino or Asian American, at 50.8 percent and 18.7 percent, respectively.

The National Voter Registration Act is one of the most successful post-civil rights-era federal laws, specifically in terms of making it easier for Americans to exercise their franchise and increasing voter participation. Arizona has attempted to impede that progress and has disenfranchised tens of thousands of voters in the process by requiring them to prove the authenticity of their citizenship far above what the carefully crafted federal law requires.

This is bad practice, bad law and fundamentally undemocratic.

Congress streamlined the previously cumbersome and varied state-based process of registering. In doing so, it exerted its constitutional authority over federal elections and greatly enhanced our democracy. Not only is Arizona's law counterproductive, it is unnecessary. The federal law already built in safeguards to ensure that only citizens can register and includes penalties for violations.

Whether it's Alabama trying to revert to the Jim Crow era by refusing minority voters protection from discrimination or Arizona trying to deny citizens their right to vote, the Supreme Court has important decisions to make in order to protect our democracy, and we hope it makes the right ones.

These issues and cases are not about who wins elections, it's about ensuring that all eligible Americans get a say in who represents them.

 

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