audio_analysisNational Voter Registration Act (NVRA) was passed by Congress 20 years ago to provide a standardized, simple way for Americans to register to vote in federal elections. The law provides for a form prospective voters can fill out and mail to state boards of elections. States are required to “accept and use” the form. The law also requires the form be made easily available in many offices, including Departments of Motor Vehicles. That’s how the law became known as the “motor voter” law.

The law also requires prospective voters to attest, under penalty of perjury, that they are United States citizens.

Arizona passed a law, Proposition 200, by referendum adding a requirement that Arizonans provide proof of citizenship.The law specified certain documents, documents that can be difficult for poor people, the elderly and new citizens to obtain. Several groups sued, challenging the right of Arizona to impose these new requirements. Lower courts agreed that the law should be struck down.

In Supreme Court oral arguments, the justices’ questioning largely revolved around two issues: the balance of federal and state authority to regulate federal elections, and whether the Arizona law’s requirements directly conflicted with the text of the NVRA.