“[T]he Federal Government does not have the constitutional authority to withhold such approval.”
My guess is that the vast majority of Coloradans would agree with these words, penned by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in his dissent to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Arizona’s voter registration “proof of citizenship” law.
Thomas argued that the Federal Government does not have the constitutional authority to contradict or override state standards designed to make sure that only people legally able to vote do so.
In fact, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports survey, 71% of Americans polled favor proof of citizenship before allowing voter registration. Yes, this is a national poll, though common sense tells us that support in Colorado for such a proposal isn’t going to be much different.
I am not an unbiased observer here. I know that, as a legal voter, when an illegal vote is cast that illegal ballot diminishes the effect of my legal vote — and diminishes the fundamental right under the Colorado Constitution that I have as a U.S. citizen.
In fact, I have carried legislation in the past that would have required proof of citizenship to register to vote in Colorado. The proposal never made it out of legislative committees controlled by majority Democrats. When Republicans controlled the state House of Representatives, a similar measure did pass, only to be killed in a state Senate committee controlled by Democrats.
I believe that it is our moral imperative to protect the integrity of our elections and to do our part to ensure that everyone who is legally able to vote in our elections has the opportunity to do so. With that comes the corollary responsibility to protect the integrity of our elections and our vote by ensuring that those who are not legally entitled to vote do not cast an illegal ballot.
Having read the court’s reasoning in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona (12-71), I find it difficult to understand the deliberations that lead to such a contorted decision. Not only did the Supreme Court double back on previous opinions related to the discretion of states to set standards for legal voters, the Court immensely complicated federal elections against elections for state and local offices.
In upending a state’s ability simply to verify citizenship, the Supreme Court leaves states virtually powerless to close the door on voter fraud and corruption in federal elections, but leaves open to states the ability to fight voter fraud and corruption in state and local elections. A nonsensical and unnecessarily burdensome proposition as noted by Justice Alito in his dissent. I would add that this also creates a discernible inequity between federal and state elections.
Truth is, requiring proof of citizenship when registering to vote is simply a way of streamlining the verification and protections outlined in our state constitution. There is no ambiguity whatsoever on whether non-citizens are allowed to vote in our elections. Our state constitution is absolutely, crystal clear on this matter.
Article VII § 1. Qualifications of elector. Every citizen of the United States who has attained the age of eighteen years, has resided in this state for such time as may be prescribed by law, and has been duly registered as a voter if required by law shall be qualified to vote at all elections. (italic emphasis added)
If you are not a citizen of the United States, you cannot vote in Colorado. It’s that simple, or it ought to be…
As with too many things these days, the simple, common sense interpretation held by 71% of Americans was apparently lost on seven of the court’s justices.
I don’t understand the stark, militant opposition that Democrats have against protecting our most sacred of rights, the right to vote.
There exists no constitutional question over whether non-citizens can vote in Colorado. Doesn’t matter if you’re from Ireland, Cambodia, Israel or Nicaragua. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you can’t vote. And yet Democrats continue to oppose a simple, straightforward approach to showing citizenship when registering to vote — an approach favored by the vast majority of Americans.
The ruling sweeps under the rug Justice Thomas’ observation. The federal government does not have the power or authority to tell a state who they can allow to vote in elections. In fact, the U.S. Constitution specifically reserves to the states the right to “qualify electors.”
While the Democratic Party’s position against requiring proof of citizenship is massively out of step with the vast majority of Americans (and Coloradans), it’s the United States Supreme Court that has really turned common sense on its head with their ruling in the Arizona case.
For the Democrats, it’s a cold political calculation that they’ve made. On the Supreme Court decision, my opinion is this: It isn’t fair and it isn’t right for you to throw open the door to voter fraud and corruption and eliminate our ability to host fair and honest elections.
Rep. Frank McNulty was Speaker of the Colorado House for the 68th General Assembly. He represents Highlands Ranch, Colorado in the Colorado House of Representatives.