Second Significant Voting Rights Case Heard by Supreme Court

 Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Arizona v. ITCA, Inc. a critically-important voting rights case that examines whether the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) prevents states from passing laws that restrict the voter registration process. In this case, the League of Women Voters of the U.S. submitted an amicus brief and the League of Women Voters of Arizona was a named plaintiff.

“The NVRA was intended to and has succeeded in bringing more citizens into the democratic process since its passage in 1993,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. “After 20 years, the Supreme Court should not let Arizona’s law trump the Constitution and overturn the NVRA with its proven record protecting the integrity of our election system and increasing access to voter registration in federal elections across the country.”

“Restrictions on the use of the national voter registration application form like those by Arizona make it much more difficult to register eligible citizens to vote,” MacNamara said. “Independent registration drives by citizen groups like the League are often the only effective means for some voters to get registered and participate in our great democracy.”

“States should not be allowed to play politics with the voter registration process, the key entry point for political participation in our democracy,” said MacNamara. “This case could send us down a slippery slope toward more and more state restrictions on the voter registration process and the right to vote.”

“Once again, supposed ‘states rights’ are being used as an excuse to try and prevent people from registering to vote,” according to MacNamara. “We hope the Supreme Court sees this for what it really is – an attempt to keep some U.S. citizens from exercising their right to vote,” she said. 

“The importance of the two recent Supreme Court voting rights cases – Arizona v. ITCA today and Shelby County, AL v. Holder two weeks ago – really can’t be overstated,” said MacNamara. “The stakes have always been high in the fight to protect and expand voters’ rights but the stakes got a lot higher in 2013.”

“The Court is currently considering two of the most significant voting rights laws in the modern era,” MacNamara said. “The decisions in either and both of these cases could be game-changers when it comes to protections for the right of every citizen to vote and the work the League and citizen groups like us do to expand participation and the electorate.”

“It is deeply troubling that the nation’s highest Court might turn its back on the crowning achievements of the civil rights era,” said MacNamara. “Arizona’s law clearly violates a federal law that Congress has clear constitutional authority to enact. As the grassroots organization that led the push for enactment of the NVRA, we are concerned that this case could reverse years of progress,” MacNamara said. “Restricting voter registration is just one way to limit the right to vote,” she said.   

“Without a strong VRA, voting rights are left without vital protections and without the NVRA, the voter registration process is vulnerable to political manipulation,” concluded MacNamara. “If states win and voters lose before the U.S. Supreme Court, we can expect to see additional states consider an even broader range of restrictions on voting and changes to electoral systems unparalleled since the days of Jim Crow.”

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CONTACT:  Kelly Ceballos, kceballos@lwv.org