07 November 2005

Arizona Denies Married Women's Right To Vote

Arizona has denied at least a thousand people, mostly married women whose birth certificate names don't match their current names, the right to vote in this year's election, even though officials know that the vast majority of them are legally entitld to vote.

Proposition 200, which voters approved last year, requires Arizonans to prove U.S. citizenship to register to vote and to show a photo ID at the polls.

The law put this border state at the edge of a nationwide push to tighten screening at the polls: fifteen states now require ID at polling places, but no other state requires documentation of citizenship in order to register. . . .

In Maricopa County, home to Phoenix, more than 10,000 people trying to register have been rejected for being unable to prove their citizenship. Yvonne Reed, a spokeswoman for the recorder's office, said Friday that most probably are U.S. citizens whose married names differ from their birth certificates or who have lost documentation.

Reed said she hoped the number of rejected voters would shrink as election officials explained the new requirements. But, she said, "there will be an amount of people who we will not be able to get on the rolls because of not being able to find the right documents or just losing interest."

In Pima County, home to Tucson, 60% of those who tried to register initially could not. Chris Roads, chief deputy recorder and registrar, said all appeared to be U.S. citizens but many had moved to Arizona recently and couldn't access birth certificates or passports.

Many of those prospective voters have since been able to register, but Roads said about 1,000 citizens were still unable to vote in Tuesday's election because of Proposition 200 requirements. "The biggest bloc of people who are impacted are the legitimate citizens," Roads said.

Not surprisingly, support for Proposition 200 came disproportionately from Republicans, conservatives and Protestants.

A similar law in Georgia, which does not require proof of citizenship, has been held unconstitutional as a poll tax.

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