The Supreme Court voted 7-2 to strike down an Arizona law requiring documented proof of citizenship in order to vote, a politically motivated measure to make the electorate older and whiter.
The Supreme Court voted 7-2 to strike down an Arizona law requiring documented proof of citizenship in order to vote. The Court's rationale was simply that the Arizona law was trumped by a federal law, which only requires that a voter check a box stating that he or she is a citizen of the United States and face perjury charges should they lie.
The Arizona law that the Supreme Court struck down seems rational enough from a distance, but a blatant political move from one step closer. Based on 2010 data, Arizona has around 400,000 illegal immigrants, about 8% of its population. Shouldn't we check if the people voting in our elections are here legally? Yes. And we do. Because it takes more than checking a box to claim the legal right to vote. One must provide their name and address, and if someone is not a U.S. citizen, they won't be on the voter rolls. On top of that, Arizona requires that voters show I.D. to vote. To vote illegally in Arizona, one already has to steal or forge an I.D. of someone who is already on the voter rolls, and then get around any complications resulting from that (like the person one is impersonating voting as well).
No, it is not illegal immigrants that Arizona can legitimately worry about here, but the growing Hispanic population, which can legally vote, but statistically has less documentation. By increasing the burden to vote to include not just an ID but also proof of citizenship, Arizona would make their electorate older, whiter and more Republican. The current state legislature is controlled by Republicans, but as Arizona becomes more Latino, the state has flirted with going blue.
The Supreme Court doesn't necessarily care about all of that. This case, however, was very straightforward: the Arizona law was in conflict with federal law, and federal law trumps state law. Many Republican states have sought to make voting harder, and they can continue to do so, they just can't violate federal law in the process.