Latino leader addresses
Arizona immigration and ID laws

Thomas A. Saenz is the president and general counsel for MALDEF, the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Photo by Khara Persad/News21.

The Supreme Court decision on Arizona’s immigration law this week has drawn not only national attention, but was the focus – along with voting law – of leaders who met Tuesday in Phoenix for the first Latino State of the State of Arizona.

Much of the event, presented by the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, centered on the high court’s ruling that left in place the most controversial portion of SB 1070, the so-called “show your papers” requirement.

Many attendees also spoke in opposition to Proposition 200, Arizona’s voter-ID law.

Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF’s president and general counsel, described the financial barriers faced by eligible Latino voters who would have to obtain an ID to vote as a result of law.

“You have to pay a price to vote,” Saenz said. “That’s not a price that a lot of people in the middle class or maybe even above are cognizant of, but for other communities, it’s quite difficult. It’s a barrier to vote.”

By Jack Fitzpatrick and Khara Persad, News21

Arizona appeal to Supreme Court
to continue citizenship requirement

Arizona asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday for permission to continue requiring proof of citizenship from those who seek to register to vote. State officials asked this as Arizona prepares to appeal an April ruling that eliminated the requirement from the state’s voter-ID law.

Solicitor General Dave Cole said that the proof-of-citizenship requirement should stay in place for the November election.

Arizona law directed county officials to reject any registration document not accompanied by proof of citizenship. But a 1993 federal law requires only a sworn statement of citizenship on federal registration forms. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in April found that Arizona’s law conflicted with federal law, and struck the citizenship requirement. The state plans to appeal to the Supreme Court by its July 16 deadline.

“The basic issue is the extent to which the federal and state forms conflict, and the extent to which the federal government can say, ‘Look, we have full authority to do this and the states can’t do anything,’” Cole said.

By Jack Fitzpatrick, News21

Tom Horne: Arizona attorney general says DOJ oversteps in elections

Tom Horne is the attorney general for Arizona. Photo by Khara Persad/News21

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne says that federal oversight of the state’s elections under the Voting Rights Act was never necessary in Arizona and now calls it unconstitutional in any state.

“It’s totally unjustified,” Horne said. “I don’t think anybody is trying to prevent anyone else from voting in 2012. They probably did in 1950 in the South, but in Arizona in 2012, no one is trying to prevent anyone else from voting. And the federal government has no business trying to micromanage what we do.”

Horne filed a lawsuit last August challenging Section 5 of the federal law that requires states with a history of discrimination to be cleared before they can change local election laws.

By Jack Fitzpatrick and Khara Persad, News21

Poll watchers deployed for Arizona special election Tuesday

Grady Rhodes (background left), a first-time poll watcher with the Pima County Voter Integrity Project, observes the voter check-in table at the polling place inside the Chinese Cultural Center, Tuesday in Tucson, Ariz. Photo by Jeremy Knop/News21

Newly trained poll watchers were deployed to 34 Arizona precincts Tuesday to keep an eye out for potential voter fraud in the special election to fill the vacancy left by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D., Ariz. Giffords retired from Congress to focus on her recovery from a critical gunshot head wound that she suffered in a January 2011 assassination attempt.

Giffords’ former aide Ron Barber, who was shot in the leg and cheek in that same attack, won the special election and will serve the remaining months of her term.

Grady Rhodes was among more approximately 60 volunteers who were trained to monitor voting.

“A lot of people think there could be a lot of fraud going on and they’re not sure whether their vote counts or not.” said Rhodes, a first-time poll watcher. “I wanted to be a part of helping the people and making sure their vote does count and to ensure fraud isn’t going on.”

Rhodes identified himself as a Republican and a member of the tea party, having received his training through the Pima County Voter Integrity Project on Saturday. Jennifer Wright, a tea party member who recently ran for mayor of Phoenix, trained Rhodes, he said.

Of those who went through poll watcher training Saturday, 34 were available Tuesday for the special election, said Karen Schutte, Pima County Voter Integrity Project coordinator.

By Jeremy Knop, News21