Major impact unlikely from voter decision
Arizona will soon be on the pitching mound again to throw a ball to the U.S. Supreme Court.
This time the issue the high court will decide is whether an Arizona voter law that requires proof of citizenship to register to vote can include those people who use federal voter registration forms. Arguments in the case are expected in February, with a decision by next summer.
Arizona appealed a ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that denied the state that ability, and the high court agreed to hear the case earlier this week.
The appeals court was very clear in rejecting the Arizona voter provision, saying our state overstepped its powers and interfered with federal jurisdiction. It is not a new charge against state officials. There have been ongoing fights between Arizona and the federal government in recent years over jurisdiction issues.
The state has often found itself on the short end of the those rulings, most recently involving various provisions of the SB 1070 law that attempts to curtail illegal immigration. State officials seem to have a hard time understanding that when there is a conflict between state power and federal power, it is the national government that wins.
In the case of the voter registration issue, it is likely to be a split decision. The appeals court ruled the state could continue to require proof of citizenship for those using state registration forms but not for those choosing to use the federal forms, which only require the registrant to avow they are a citizen.
We expect the Supreme Court will uphold that decision. If so, it is likely to have a minimal impact on state voting. The reason is that few people use the federal form.
The story would be different, however, if the high court were to decide the federal policy on identification applies to all forms of voter registration, including state registration. But, again, that is probably unlikely.