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Sunday, August 15, 2004

The following article came to me by way of an e-mail. I believe Randy Graff is behind what you are about to read. The bottom line: vote NO for PAN in November.

"Tuesday August 10, 2004AZ: Protect Arizona Now's Trojan Horse

Protect Arizona Now (PAN), an initiative which will go before Arizona voters in the November election, is a Trojan Horse. The many arguments regarding border policy and protecting the democratic process are cover for deeper political motives among the Initiative's backers.
The purpose and intended side-effects of PAN's statutory changes are consistently obscured under misleading and inflammatory rhetoric, but PAN is really intended to preserve the GOP's electoral power in Arizona. It has other effects which are certainly positive in the view of its backers, such as scaring resident aliens and illegal aliens away from use of public services, but the real purpose of PAN is not protecting the electoral process or conserving tax-payer funds. The real purpose of PAN is its predicable side-effect on Democratic registration and voting rates across the board, not just those of minorities.
PAN has two main provisions. The first requires proof of citizenship for all new voter registrations and casting of ballots after PAN passes. The second requires all agencies providing public services in the state to verify a person's citizenship before providing service and to report any violations of immigration law to Federal authorities under penalty of state criminal charges. The first provision is misleading as to its purpose, and the second is morally monstrous. I will deal with the second portion of PAN in a later article. The "vote fraud" provisions of PAN are my focus today.
The changes to the electoral laws by PAN will apply to all new registrants after the Initiative's passage. The law essentially changes the evidentiary standard for voting eligibility. Currently, public policy favors voting by presumptively allowing people vote. Such a presumption encourages registration and places the burden on the State, or a party in opposition, to prove the individual is actually ineligible to vote, in which case the vote is discarded. Given that the United States has one of the lowest registration rates of any democracy and we do not automatically make every citizen eligible to vote at the age of majority as do many other democracies, this presumption in favor of the voter is appropriate, and arguably necessary, even if it allows a certain amount of systemic abuse. Any abuse is outweighed by the desirable effect it has on legitimate voter participation. By denying both registration and ballots to anyone lacking an ID deemed sufficient to prove citizenship, PAN places the burden of evidentiary production on the voter. This will certainly reduce the registration and voting rates of all those the law affects.
Every student of the political process knows that even the slightest inconvenience will dissuade a percentage of potential voters from participating. For instance, the Motor Voter law increased registration rates in AZ by about 10%. The correlative conclusion is that simply requiring citizens to register at a separate state office effectively prevented many thousands of people from voting. PAN will have a similar, if not greater, impact on voting behavior among new residents of Arizona, the vast majority of whom will be legal citizens who are eligible to vote and could easily prove their citizenship. Despite their ability to meet the requirements of PAN, a percentage of these citizens will be dissuaded from political participation in Arizona by the requirements of PAN. A greater portion of these affected citizens will be Democrats than will be Republicans; or at least that is the plan of PAN's backers.
PAN reads:
G. NOTWITHSTANDING SUBSECTION F OF THIS SECTION, ANY PERSON WHO IS REGISTERED IN THIS STATE ON THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS AMENDMENT TO THIS SECTION IS DEEMED TO HAVE PROVIDED SATISFACTORY EVIDENCE OF CITIZENSHIP AND SHALL NOT BE REQUIRED TO RESUBMIT EVIDENCE OF CITIZENSHIP UNLESS THE PERSON IS CHANGING VOTER REGISTRATION FROM ONE COUNTY TO ANOTHER.
This language grandfathers all current residents who are registered to vote, exempting them from the requirements of PAN. Potential Democratic voters are unregistered at a greater rate than likely GOP constituencies. Hispanic and Native American citizens are more likely to not be registered than any other demographic groups and are more likely to vote Democratic than Republican. The Hispanic community is the swiftest growing in Arizona and thus will suffer the greatest losses in political representation as a result of PAN, even though they are citizens. Recent immigrants from other states are more likely to register and vote Democrat than Republican, a trend which is swiftly transforming Arizona politics. Exempting current registered residents tends to freeze the political status quo by disproportionately reducing the participation of new arrivals to Arizona.
The real purpose of PAN is fully revealed in the language of the following clause:
H. FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION, PROOF OF VOTER REGISTRATION FROM ANOTHER STATE OR COUNTY IS NOT SATISFACTORY EVIDENCE OF CITIZENSHIP.
Those moving into Arizona from other states will have to prove citizenship, even if they were previously registered in another state. The real purpose of this is to inconvenience the people who are immigrating to Arizona from other states, not to plug a hole through which only a minor number of fraudulent registrations, if any, are likely to pass.
Notice that there are no conditionals and no administrative discretion provided for in this clause. Were the purpose of this clause actually prevention of fraud, registrars or the Secretary of State should be given discretion to determine if procedures in various states were sufficient to certify their voter registration as sufficient to prove citizenship. The result would greatly reduce the potential impact on voter participation. This law does allow such a procedure deliberately, because it is not inspired by a desire to protect the electoral process from fraud, but to inconvenience and harass all immigrants from other states in hopes that they will be dissuaded from registering or voting.
The terrible burden on legitimate citizens voting rights that PAN imposes is vastly outweighed by the very slight possibility of filtering out a few fraudulent registrations. This great burden on voting by citizens new to Arizona is not an unfortunate side-effect of PAN - it is PAN's main purpose. PAN is not intended primarily to prevent non-citizens from voting. PAN's registration and voting provisions are intended primarily to suppress the political participation of all new residents in Arizona. Everything else in PAN is but political bait to get a clear majority to vote for it against their own best interests.
With an influx of new residents moving into Arizona from predominantly liberal areas, Arizona's Democratic population is growing quicker than the GOP's. The GOP is aware of this trend and fears the loss of their electoral advantage in Arizona over next decade as a result of these demographic changes. If they can suppress the registration and voting rate of new citizens, they can hold onto their numerical superiority in Arizona longer, perhaps indefinitely.
The framers of PAN either intended to exacerbate the side effects of PAN on legitimate voters, or they are criminally inept legislative drafters. In either case, the side-effects of this law constitute sufficient cause to reject this draft of the law, even if you support its stated purposes.
PAN's purpose is to disenfranchise Democrats and prolonging GOP hegemony over Arizona politics. With support for PAN polling at around 75%, many Democrats are obviously supporting PAN. What these voters don't realize is they are not protecting the electoral process by supporting PAN, they severely damaging voting rights in Arizona. A vote for PAN is a vote to intentionally disenfranchise many of your fellow citizens. Concerns PAN's backers raise over illegal immigrants and non-citizens corrupting the electoral process are merely a red-herring to garner support for what amounts to a Democratic voter suppression act.by Michael Bryan "

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