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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Supreme Court challenge to Prop. 200 raises questions about legitimacy in voting

    Americans have fought countless battles over the right to vote, and now Arizona is embroiled in another battle.

    This time it involves Proposition 200, passed in 2004 by Arizona voters, which (among other things) requires those who want to register to vote to provide documentation of citizenship.
    Immediately after Prop 200 was passed, advocacy groups for Latinos, Native Americans and others filed lawsuits challenging its legality.

    A three-judge panel initially sided with Arizona, but a secondary panel reversed the ruling and blocked the registration requirement. Following that, judges decided to kick the case all the way to the top, and now the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear the appeal in February.

    As for whether either side has ground to stand on, it’s hard to say. Frankly, both sides make a legitimate argument.

    The Arizona Legislature, as it often does, wants to keep undocumented immigrants from being involved in a country that they are not a citizen of — which is fair. It made sense to fight for universal suffrage so that black people and women could vote, but no one can honestly expect someone who is in the country illegally to be given that same privilege.

    Advocate groups also have a point worth considering, namely that poor families might not have the documentation required to prove citizenship, despite the fact that they are indeed citizens. Currently, citizens in this situation can register using the federal voter registration form, which operates on the honors system under the punishment of perjury — Prop 200 takes that ability away.

    What it really boils down to is whether or not America, or more specifically Arizona, trusts its citizens. Personally, a government that doesn’t trust the people it represents is a pretty poor government, and without that trust the whole organization becomes pointless.

    On the other hand, would perjury really intimidate someone who would just be deported instead? Oftentimes illegal immigrants risk a lot more just getting to the U.S., and if lying gets them the ability to vote for candidates who will pass policies that favor immigrants, it’d be worth it. Not right or legal, but worth it.

    The difficulty of the situation is exactly why the Supreme Court will make the final ruling, but its ruling will be interesting. Unlike Senate Bill 1070’s infamous “papers, please” provision, which lets law enforcement officials ask for proof of citizenship, Prop 200 doesn’t seem so invasive.

    Elections are as important as they are a pain in the ass, and making sure every voter is legitimate can’t be easy. Granted, there are far bigger problems than voter registration fraud, but if Arizona wants to make fraud more difficult to commit, no one should be upset with that.

    The only thing worse than passing anti-immigrant legislation is everyone assuming all legislation is anti-immigrant after one bad law passes, and Prop 200 is certainly not anti-immigrant.

    — Jason Krell is the copy chief for the Arizona Daily Wildcat. He can be reached at or on Twitter via @Jason_Krell .

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