By Brad Friedman on 11/6/2006, 6:21pm PT  

Arizona may be a battleground tomorrow. Here's an idea, from Art Levine of Salon, of the mess on the ground due to AZ's disenfranchising new Photo ID laws. Don't think these laws keep folks from voting? Read on to see how unbelievably difficult it's become for college students to register to vote in the state...

In Arizona, students can't register to vote unless they provide an Arizona-approved birth certificate and multiple proofs of their current address. In-state students who are already registered to vote in one Arizona county must provide proof of U.S. citizenship if they want to reregister in another county. At Arizona State University in Tempe, with its 63,000 students living on and off campus, voter registration has essentially evaporated. Allowing for the difference in intensity between presidential and midterm elections, the falloff is still stunning. From 5,000 voters registered in six weeks before the 2004 presidential race, the ASU Young Democrats' post-Proposition 200 registration drive has produced little more than 200 new voters in a year and a half. According to Joaquin Rios, 20-year-old president of the local Young Democrats chapter, the problem is the ID requirement. "I've encountered hundreds of students," he reports, "and I don't know a single one who has decided to get a state ID."

Even if an Arizona college student is determined to vote, overcoming all the obstacles is still a bureaucratic nightmare that could deter all but the most fervent political activist. For instance, Christopher Gustafson, the 19-year-old Texan who is president of the student senate at ASU, was eager to register to vote in his new home. But when he went down to the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles with a state-certified birth certificate that his mother had mailed to him from Texas, he still didn't qualify to vote. He was told he only had a "short-form" birth certificate, and needed a "long-form" birth certificate that included his father's birthplace. The Arizona DMV wouldn't accept the short version even when combined with his Texas driver's license.

"Is this because of Proposition 200?" Gustafson asked a supervisor.

"No, it's because of 9/11," the supervisor replied.

Ultimately, after spending a total of $42 and getting the long-form birth certificate mailed to him, Gustafson was finally granted the Arizona driver's license that permitted him to register to vote.

The full article is here.

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