Michael: Prop 200 preventing new voter registrationsCritics predicted that Prop 200 would tend to discourage and supress new voter registrations with its new identification requirements. However, it appears to be much worse that expected. The Arizona Daily Star has reported that the Pima Registrar's office now has a rejection rate of 59% for new voter registrations since Prop 200 took effect, compared to 0% at the same time last year. Inquiries with the Registrar's office of Arizona's other major population areas, Maricopa and Coconino, confirm that they also are both running a roughly 50% rejection rate since Prop 200 took effect.
Of course, new voters will be notified of the needed identification, and new forms, which specify the requirements for new voter registration under Prop 200, are being prepared. Many, possibly most, of these rejections will amended and processed. But if even a small percentage of new voters fail to meet Prop 200's requirements or give up, despite being eligible voters, we will have supressed the constitutional rights of American citizens in pursuit of a the illusory goal of preventing illegal aliens from voting. Never has there been a single instance of an illegal alien voting, nor of being apprehended trying to vote. Prop 200 serves as just another means to make excercising fundamental political rights difficult, especially for those of limited means, and minority racial or ethnic affiliation.
I would not be surprised if, after a short time in effect, Prop 200 could be successfully challenged as a violation of the equal propection proection clause of the 14th Amendment under a 'disparate impact' theory. It seems very likely that members of a protected class are statistically more likely to be prevented from voting by Prop 200, exposing Prop 200 to constitutional challenge. That day cannot come too soon, in my opinion; however, better that voters should be given a chance to repeal at least some portions of Prop 200 by another initiative in 2006.
Prop 200 is embarassing, poorly implemented law that was passed due to the overheated rhetoric and out-of-state funding of people with a broadly racist agenda. The initiative power in our State Constitution is generally a positive political force, and a needed check on the government by the grassroots, but it does pose inherent dangers. Prop 200 is an edifying example of what can go wrong.