SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 26, 2010 (Reuters) — A federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down an Arizona requirement that residents prove U.S. citizenship in order to register to vote but upheld a mandate that they present identification before casting their ballots.
Opponents of the 6-year-old law incorporating both provisions — designed to prevent illegal immigrants from voting — said the ruling would likely lead to thousands being turned away at next Tuesday’s elections for lacking the required identification records.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ invalidation of requirements for proof of citizenship comes too late for any prospective new voters who were barred from registering before the deadline for the November 2 U.S. mid-term elections.
The state denied registration of an estimated 30,000 Arizonans who failed to prove their citizenship during the first four years of the law, said John Greenbaum, legal director for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, one of the groups challenging the statute.
His organization hailed Tuesday’s decision to strike down the proof of citizenship requirement as “a great victory for voting rights advocates.”
A joint statement by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and Secretary of State Ken Bennett, both Republicans, called the ruling “an outrage and a slap in the face to all Arizonans who care about the integrity of their elections.”
Neither side said whether it would appeal further.