Arizona Sues Federal Government Over Election Law

Aug 26, 2011 - LegalZoom News Sources
Arizona wants a court to overturn a provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The state of Arizona recently sued the U.S. Department of Justice, challenging provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 requiring Arizona to obtain federal approval for any changes to its election laws.

According to the suit, the 1965 civil rights law mandated that certain states, mostly in the South but including Arizona, could not revise their election laws without getting approval from the DOJ, to ensure minorities are not discriminated against. This rule has been renewed twice, most recently in 2006, despite the government's acknowledgement that progress has been made to enfranchise minorities, and regardless of the fact that Arizona has elected a Hispanic governor.

Arizona says the federal law is unconstitutional because it places unreasonable burdens on the state and treats it differently than other states. Because even minor legislation affecting voting districts must be cleared with DOJ, the state has petitioned for approval of more than two dozen pieces of legislation in 2011.

Tom Horne, Arizona's attorney general, filed the suit after federal authorities objected to a proposed law requiring a photo ID from anyone delivering more than 10 early ballots to a polling place.

Arizona's treatment of its Hispanic population was recently questioned by the federal government, which successfully sued for an injunction against a strict immigration law passed by the state last year.