Project Wonderful

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Today in Voter Suppression

An 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is reconsidering a three-judge panel's ruling that the state's proof of citizenship requirement conflicts with federal voter registration law that law allows people registering to vote to swear under penalty of perjury that they are citizens.

I think my pro-voting/pro-access-to-voting/few-hurdles-to-voting-as-possible credentials are well enough secured, that I can say requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote does not seem like an undue burden.

Sure, we know where Arizona lawmakers' citizenship checking motivations come from and I certainly don't agree with those. But, if you are a person who is intentionally voting somewhere you shouldn't, you probably don't have any qualms about lying about it knowing you are very unlikely to get caught. If we're asking people to swear that they are citizens, they we obviously care about finding out, and if we care about finding out, why not do it right?

On the other hand this type of legislation would disproportionally affect poor people and young people since both groups are transient and less likely to have access to or knowledge of proper documentation. My friend Natalie points out that many domestic violence victims often won't have documentation because they have had to flee their abusers. Nor of course, would homeless people. These are all groups that don't need more barriers.

So I think where I stand is that in a perfect world we should require proof of citizenship to vote, but we also shouldn't be disenfranchising the aforementioned groups. So until we can solve the *shouldn't* by other means the *should* will have to wait.

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