The National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also known as the "Motor-Voter Law" requires a uniform federal registration form for all federal level elections such as US President, Vice President, and US Senators.
The Supreme Court decision reinforces a lower court opinion in the case of Arizona v The Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona. Both courts stated that Arizona can require additional proof of citizenship on its state level voter registration forms. However, the state cannot add those requirements to the federal registration forms.
Those federal forms require only a signatory affidavit (affirmation and attestation by checking a block and signing the form). Lying on that block and signing the form is both perjury and fraud in regards to the federal form. However, the US DoJ rarely proffers charges when this federal law is broke. Voter Integrity advocates feel that this practice amounts to voter fraud being committed with relative impunity.
The Supreme Court further opined that registering at state-level drivers' license testing and processing locations falls under the federal form. Their decision attaches the registration at a state agency to fall under federal jurisdiction because of the federal Motor-Voter law.
The court does uphold, however, that the state can deny registrations if there is reasonable suspicion that an applicant using the federal form is not a US citizen. The court asserts that there is no requirement to register every applicant.
Also, it is not all bad news for the Arizona law:
Arizona may, however, request anew that the EAC include such a requirement among the Federal Form’s state-specific instructions, and may seek judicial review of the EAC’s decision under the Administrative Procedure Act.The EAC is the US Election Assistance Commission. Justice Scalia penned the majority opinion.
The Court decision was 7-2 with Justices Alito and Thomas comprising the dissenting opinion.
Legislative Reactions Call For Reform of Federal Voter Laws
In response, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas filed an amendment to the controversial Rubio-Schumer immigration bill. That amendment would, in effect, amend the Motor-Voter law with a federal requirement to provide proof of citizenship beyond just a signatory affidavit on federal and state voter registration forms.
Just filed amendment to immigration bill that permits states to require ID for voter registration http://t.co/Um82HU7XPBThe amendment is co-sponsored by Senator David Vitter of Louisiana. The Cruz-Vitter Amendment is predicated on a statement in Justice Alito's dissenting opinion, "I do not think that this is what Congress intended". In order to back Justice Alito's assertion, Senators Cruz and Vitter seek to fix the unintended consequence of the law.
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) June 17, 2013
The Cruz-Vitter Amendment is simple and straightforward in its text:
Section 6 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (42 U.S.C. 1973gg-4) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:
‘‘(e) PROOF OF CITIZENSHIP .—Nothing in subsection (a) shall be construed to preempt any State law requiring evidence of citizenship in order to complete any requirement to register to vote in elections for Federal office.’’
The current Immigration Reform bill circulating the US Senate is already a point of contention. Most conservatives oppose the bill on the grounds that it does little to insure border security and port-of-entry reform. Those are seen as the first necessary steps to immigration reform. Others contend that the "path to citizenship" measures are far to lenient, amounting to another round of amnesty. The 1980s era immigration reform allowed amnesty as what was intended to be a "one-time-deal". Since, illegal immigration has drastically increased, indicating that illegals assumed "they did it once, they'll do it again, just wait it out" attitude. This current bill indicates their prediction was correct, and criminals will be rewarded for their crimes, rather than punished.
Further points of concern revolve around the applicability of Obamacare and the intentions to allow illegal immigrants access to subsides provided by already over-taxed tax payers in a depressed economy.
The addition of this amendment will likely sink the immigration bill debate further into a quagmire. That will amount to the bill not being passed, and this necessary change to the Motor-Voter law not being enacted.