Newspaper article Roll Call

Perez: Congress Must Retain Power to Protect Voters

Newspaper article Roll Call

Perez: Congress Must Retain Power to Protect Voters

Article excerpt

The Supreme Court faces another critical voting rights case Monday with a challenge to a restrictive Arizona voter registration law just weeks after it considered the landmark Voting Rights Act. Following an election marred by long lines and confusion at the polls, the court now has two opportunities to protect voting rights for millions of citizens. To honor the promise of our Constitution that all Americans have the right to vote without facing discrimination, the court must step up and ensure our elections remain free, fair, and accessible for all.

Both the Voting Rights Act case (Shelby County v. Holder) and Arizona v. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona come down to Congress"s power to regulate elections. Where the Shelby County case examined the continuing need for the Voting Rights Act, the country"s most successful piece of civil rights legislation, Monday"s argument will focus on whether Congress has the power to enact measures that may override state law to protect the right to vote in federal elections. The answer is an unequivocal yes.

Arizona v. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona involves a law passed in 2004 as state ballot initiative Proposition 200 that requires voters to submit proof of citizenship when registering to vote. But the National Voter Registration Act (also known as Motor Voter) provides a simple, uniform, federal registration form that states must "accept and use.' By rejecting more than 30,000 federal forms because they did not provide additional citizenship documentation, Arizona violated this federal law.

The consequences were clear: Arizona"s law led to the disenfranchisement of U.S. citizens. These voters did nothing wrong. They used the federal form, which does not require additional documentation, but they were not allowed to register.

Arizona is not alone. …

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