Phoenix, AZ–(HISPANIC PR WIRE – BUSINESS WIRE)–October 6, 2004–A full analysis of Proposition 200, November’s most highly charged ballot initiative, is now available online at http://www.thinkaz.org, the Web site of ThinkAZ, a non-partisan, independent public policy research organization headquartered in Phoenix.
Researched and written by ThinkAZ policy analysts, “Proposition 200: A Closer Look” includes a survey of voter registration and voting ID laws in all 50 states — and compares claims made by both sides of the Proposition 200 debate.
The same ThinkAZ Policy Brief also analyzes existing Arizona and federal laws that could impact Proposition 200 implementation should the proposition become law.
Proposition 200 advocates claim it will end voter fraud by non-U.S. citizens and prevent those same residents from illegally obtaining state and local public benefits.
Opponents say it is an unnecessary attempt to fix problems that do not exist and will result in inconveniencing all Arizonans and discriminating against some. The cost to enforce the law could also be significant, they say.
ThinkAZ’s Policy Brief does not attempt to resolve that debate. Instead, ThinkAZ analysts focused on key statutory changes the measure proposes:
— Voter Registration
Proposition 200 requires anyone registering to vote to show “evidence” they are U.S. citizens via birth certificate, driver’s license, passport or other official documentation.
Federal law already mandates that states require applicants to mark a box affirming their citizenship and then sign the registration affirming its accuracy under penalty of perjury. Prop. 200 would make Arizona the only state in the nation to require proof of citizenship as well.
— Voter ID at the Polls
If Prop. 200 passes, Arizona would become the 24th state to require voters to prove their identity at the time they vote with a picture I.D. or driver’s license, or two forms of identification which list the voter’s name and address. Arizona’s current system requires only that voters announce their names and sign the voter roll book.
— Justice Department Pre-Approval
Arizona is currently one of 16 states not allowed to make any “changes in election procedures” without the specific pre-approval or pre-clearance by the District Court in Washington, D.C. or the Attorney General of the United States.
Advocates claim the changes contained in the initiative do not constitute a change in election procedures because the law already requires voters to be legal citizens. Opponents claim that requiring proof of identification at the time of voting is the kind of artificial barricade the Voting Rights Act is designed to prevent.
— Public Benefits
Proposition 200 requires state and local public employees to verify the identity of anyone applying for state and local public benefits.
Proposition 200 does not remove federally mandated public benefits for illegal immigrants such as emergency healthcare, immunizations and K-12 public education.
Prop. 200 does not include a definition of “public benefits” which will result in a debate about what public benefits are covered by the new law.
Absent a definition, the state legislature could enact a statute defining “public benefits” but it would take a three-quarters majority in each house to pass that law.
Or, the courts could ultimately decide the meaning of “public benefits.”
The lack of a specific definition of “public benefits” will require the intervention of either the state legislature or the courts if approved by Arizona voters.
— Reporting Illegal Immigrants
Proposition 200 requires state and local employees to report to federal authorities any illegal immigrant seeking to obtain state and local public benefits. Failure to do so will become a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by a $750 fine and up to four months in jail.
“Proposition 200: A Closer Look” concludes that if Proposition 200 passes, without further clarification from the state legislature or courts, it will be difficult for state and local entities to apply the law uniformly. ThinkAZ analysts also believe it is likely that action from the legislature or the courts will be required before the law can be implemented. For the complete text of “Proposition 200: A Closer Look” go to http://www.thinkaz.org.
Rita Pearson Maguire, 602-275-1110
Jeff Eldot, APR, 602-697-9323