Federal judge rules that Arizona voter ID law not poll tax

Federal judge rules that Arizona voter ID law not poll tax

[JURIST] A federal judge Wednesday rejected several claims in a legal challenge [press release] to Arizona's voter ID law [JURIST news archive] filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) [advocacy website], including a claim that the ID law amounted to an unconstitutional poll tax. Judge Roslyn Silver ruled that the fees associated with procuring the documents required by the law did not amount to a fee to vote. Although a lawyer for MALDEF indicated that the group would appeal the ruling, the district court challenge will continue on two alternative claims. The first is that the ID law violates federal voter rights laws [DOJ backgrounder] by disproportionally discriminating against minorities, who would be less likely to have the required official documents. The second is that the law, which only applies to naturalized citizens, violates the equal protection clause [text; Wex backgrounder] of the US constitution by treating naturalized citizens and natural born citizens differently.

The law, which Arizonans approved in 2004 [JURIST report] as Proposition 200 [PDF], requires voters to show a government-issued ID [AZ Sec. of State materials] at the polls. Last year, the US Supreme Court ruled that Arizona could enforce the law at the polls for the November elections [opinion, PDF; JURIST report]. In April, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] ruled that the law could be enforced while challenges were being pursued [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] in lower courts. Capitol Media Services has more.