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Washington, DC (April 17, 2012) – The following is a statement by Elisabeth MacNamara, national President of the League of Women Voters:
“Today’s 9-2 decision by the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in the case of Gonzalez v. Arizona is a tremendous win for voting rights. The Ninth Circuit dealt a blow to attempts to add requirements to the voting process that are unnecessary and will disenfranchise eligible voters. At stake was Arizona’s Proposition 200 which required voters to produce proof-of-citizenship when registering to vote using the federal mail-in registration form.
“In passing the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), Congress soundly rejected an amendment expressly permitting states to adopt laws like Proposition 200. Today’s nearly unanimous decision recognized that fact.
“Today’s decision was important for two reasons: First, it invalidates the proof-of-citizenship requirement for voter registration that would discriminate against otherwise eligible voters in Arizona. Many eligible voters don’t have the necessary documents to prove their citizenship. Second, it makes clear that the NVRA says that states can’t add additional requirements to the federal voter registration form.
“This was a huge win for groups fighting to protect voting rights. The League of Women Voters has pursued this case for several years (this was the third time it was considered in the Ninth Circuit, and we are very happy that the court agreed with the points raised in our amicus brief.
“As the major proponent for the NVRA when it passed Congress, and as an organization that registers thousands of voters every year, the League has a special interest in the case. Many of our sister organizations also worked on Gonzalez, arguing that the Arizona requirements violated the Voting Rights Act, the Equal Protection Clause, and the constitutional bar on poll taxes, in addition to the NVRA. In its decision, the Ninth Circuit outlined what groups would have to prove under the Voting Rights Act in order to overturn the requirement for ID at the polls contained in Proposition 200.
“Overall, this is an important precedent-setting decision that protects the voter registration process for all eligible citizens."
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