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Voter's Rights: SCOTUS Grants, Denies Petitions Before Election

By Robyn Hagan Cain on October 16, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It’s beginning to look like voter’s rights week in the Supreme Court.

Monday, the Court granted a petition for certiorari to consider Arizona’s proof of citizenship requirement for prospective voters. Tuesday, the Court rejected Ohio’s request to limit early voting before the November election.

First, let's discuss the grant.

Arizona voters passed Proposition 200, a ballot initiative designed to stop illegal immigrants from voting, in 2004. The measure amended state election laws to require voters to show "satisfactory evidence" of U.S. citizenship to register to vote, as well as identification to cast a ballot at the polls, reports Reuters.

In April, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Arizona voter identification requirement, and struck down the proof of citizenship voter registration requirement.

The Supreme Court granted certiorari in the case, now called Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., to review two issues: Whether the Ninth Circuit erred in creating a heightened preemption test under the Constitution's Elections Clause that is contrary to the Supreme Court's authority, and whether the National Voter Registration Act preempts a law that requests persons who are registering to vote to show evidence that they are eligible to vote.

No date has been set for oral arguments.

In the rejected case, Husted v. Obama for America, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted was asking the Supreme Court to restrict early voting in Ohio to military voters.

Earlier this year, Ohio's Republican-controlled state legislature eliminated early voting during the pre-election weekend, except for military members and Americans overseas. Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee, and the Ohio Democratic Party sued Ohio state officials over the summer, alleging that the early voting restriction was unconstitutional because it limited voting opportunities for non-military voters. In August, U.S. District Judge Peter Economus enjoined the measure, ruling that all Ohioans have a constitutionally-protected right to vote on equal terms, reports The Wall Street Journal.

In October, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Ohioans may cast early in-person absentee ballots during the final three days before the Nov. 6 election, reports Tuesday, the Supreme Court issued an order announcing that Ohio's application for stay had been denied.

Since it's only three weeks until election day, it seems unlikely that the Court will hear any pre-election voters rights arguments. With the presidential candidates in a virtual tie, let's hope the Court isn't stuck ironing out voting problems after polls close.

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