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Oklahoma voter registration law survives U.S. Supreme Court decision

Oklahoma requires those registering to vote to swear under penalty of perjury that they are U.S. citizens but doesn't demand documents proving citizenship, as Arizona did.
by Chris Casteel Published: June 17, 2013

The Supreme Court decision to strike down a voter registration law in Arizona will not affect the process in Oklahoma, which requires registrants to attest to U.S. citizenship but not provide documents proving their status.

In a 7-2 decision Monday, the high court ruled that Arizona could not add requirements for voting in federal elections — that is, for president and members of Congress — beyond what a federal form requires.

Arizona required concrete proof of citizenship, but that requirement was struck down. Kansas, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee have similar requirements.

Congress approved the National Voter Registration Act, also known as the “motor voter” law, in 1993 to encourage voter registration through a simplified process. The act requires states to accept and use a form developed the Election Assistance Commission.

That form requires registrants to swear under penalty of perjury that they are U.S. citizens.

Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion, said the 1993 law forbids states from demanding “that an applicant submit additional information beyond that required by the Federal Form.”

The court held, however, that states could deny registration if they had information in their possession that an applicant was ineligible.

Paul Ziriax, secretary of the Oklahoma State Election Board, said Monday that the state has its own registration form but is also required to accept the federal form.

“In both cases, citizenship is confirmed by a signed oath,” he said.

“In Oklahoma, falsely swearing on a voter registration application form is a felony. It is also a felony to cause an unqualified elector to become registered to vote or to submit a falsified voter registration application. Election-related felonies are punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a $50,000 fine.”

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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