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Voters need citizenship proof

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Voters need citizenship proof
Appeals Court makes ruling on Prop. 200 challenge
Amanda J. Crawford
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 21, 2007 12:00 AM

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Friday that Arizona can continue requiring people to prove citizenship when they register to vote.

The decision came as part of an ongoing challenge to the voting requirements approved on the November 2004 ballot as part of Proposition 200. The proposition, known as Protect Arizona Now, also includes the requirement that voters show identification at the polls.

Plaintiffs, including Indian tribes and Latino groups, were appealing a U.S. District Court decision not to put the citizenship requirement part of the law on hold until the lawsuit is settled.

The Appeals Court said there was insufficient evidence that the law severely burdens the right to vote or amounts to a "poll tax." Secretary of State Jan Brewer called the decision a victory for states' rights and for voters. "The people have spoken, and this is what they want in the state of Arizona," she said.

Rep. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, a plaintiff, said the decision challenges plaintiffs to show more proof of the harm of the law as the case progresses in U.S. District Court.

"I'm confident once we are able to provide the full record of how it will impact voters in Arizona, particularly minority voters, that we will win on the merits," he said.

Voters approved Proposition 200 in Nov. 2, 2004, by a 57-53 margin. Backed by conservative Phoenix activist Randy Pullen, it also carried a requirement that government employees report attempts by suspected undocumented immigrants to get public benefits.

The provisions created an almost immediate storm of controversy and legal action including the suit over the voting identification requirements.

The state did not start enforcing the requirement to show identification at the polls until the March 2006 elections and following a media campaign to educate people about what was required.