MALDEF Files Lawsuit Challenging Prop 200

May 09, 2006

PHOENIX, AZ - Today, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) filed suit in federal court challenging the voter registration and identification provisions of Proposition 200. MALDEF filed the case on behalf of individual voters and voter registration applicants as well as the following organizations: Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, Valle del Sol, Friendly House, Chicanos Por La Causa and the Arizona Hispanic Community Forum.

Proposition 200 requires that in order to register to vote, U.S. citizens must provide a government document proving their citizenship and all voters are mandated to show government identification before they are allowed to vote at the polls. As interpreted by Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer, Proposition 200 prohibits U.S. citizens from using the federally mandated voter registration form established by Congress when it passed the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) in 1993.

'By refusing to follow federal law, Secretary of State Brewer has shut down voter registration drives across the state -- in malls, churches and college campuses,' explained Nina Perales, MALDEF Southwest Regional Counsel and lead attorney in the case.

The NVRA requires states to provide individuals with the opportunity to register to vote using a federally mandated post card application. The lawsuit seeks an emergency order of the court to force Secretary of State Jan Brewer and Arizona County Recorders to accept federal voter registration applications in compliance with the NVRA. Others legal papers filed by MALDEF today include claims that the voter registration and identification provisions of Proposition 200 violate the Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act.

Cynthia Valenzuela, MALDEF Director of Litigation, commented on the new rules requiring voters to present identification at the polls, stating: 'Under Secretary of State Brewer’s interpretation of the law, tens of thousands of voters, including students and seniors, who do not have the certain identification will be disenfranchised and prevented from exercising their right to vote. The reality is that Prop. 200 erects more barriers to voting and discourages citizens from registering to vote.'

MALDEF has led the legal effort to overturn the voting restrictions in Proposition 200, filing an earlier lawsuit on behalf of voters in 2004. The case was dismissed in September 2005 without addressing the voting claims.

Danny Ortega, of the law firm of Roush, McCracken, Guerrero, Miller & Ortega is co-counsel with MALDEF in the case.

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund