Shirley Preiss voted in every presidential election since 1932, but she was nearly shut out of
participating in 2008.
When she moved to Arizona in 2007, Preiss
was told she couldn’t register to vote because
she didn’t have a document that proved she was
a U.S. citizen, as was required by a 2004 state law.
An Arizona driver’s license
or nonoperator license
would suffice, but both require proof of citizenship to
obtain. A person without a
driver’s license could submit
a copy of a birth certificate, a
U.S. passport, naturalization
papers or a tribal identification document.
But Preiss was born in 1910, a year before her
home state of Kentucky began issuing birth certificates, and she had no other citizenship proof.
Arizona authorities eventually accepted Census Bureau documentation, and Preiss cast a
ballot in the 2008 election. She died in 2011
at age 100.
This summer, the U.S. Supreme Court voted
7-2 to strike down a portion of Arizona’s law
and said states can’t require voters in federal
elections to submit documents proving U.S.
citizenship unless they ask for and receive
approval by the federal Election Assistance
Commission (EAC). If denied, a state could
appeal in court.
The ruling is especially important to older
people who, like Preiss, don’t have birth certificates or can’t locate them.
“Older voters usually participate in elections at the highest
rates yet often are the most
likely to face barriers to vot-ing,” said Dan Kohrman, senior
attorney for AARP Foundation
Arizona’s voter registration
rules were designed to curb
the alleged problem of vot-
ing by noncitizens, according
to Kohrman, who said there’s
“very little evidence of attempts
to vote by noncitizens.”
When the measure was chal-
lenged in lower federal courts,
AFL served as cocounsel on behalf of the plaintifs. AARP has
a long history of defending the
right of older people to vote, including challenging photo ID requirements.
The Verdict: The decision in Ari-
zona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona means
people do not have to present proof of citizen-
ship beyond what is required in the standard
federal voter registration form: swearing, under
penalty of perjury, that they are U.S. citizens.
However, the Supreme Court indicated states
could ask the EAC to require documented proof
of citizenship and sue if the EAC refused.
After the ruling, Arizona and Kansas ofcials
asked for documented proof of citizenship to
be added to the federal registration form used
in their states. The EAC declined; a suit filed
by the two states is pending in federal court. ;
Must would-be voters document
their U.S. citizenship?
By Emily Sachar
Emily Sachar is a journalist and author based
in Brooklyn, N. Y.
Send your questions to: Ask the Experts, AARP Bulletin, 601 E St.
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QI’ve been under a lot of pressure lately, and I’ve started grinding my
teeth at night. Is it bad for my teeth?
AGrinding or clenching your teeth, called bruxism, can be very harmful.
The pressure of tooth on tooth wears down
enamel, leaving teeth sensitive to heat or
cold. Grinding damages fillings and crowns
and loosens your teeth. It also affects
the joints on each side of the mouth that
connect the lower jaw to the skull. Stress
often triggers bruxism. Find ways to relax
before bed. And talk to your dentist, who
may recommend a night guard to wear
while sleeping to protect your teeth.
—Nissa Simon, health reporter
QWhat’s the best way to invest with a social conscience?
AIf you want to invest in a company that’s doing what you consider the
right thing on causes ranging from global
warming to animal testing, look for socially
responsible mutual funds. Each fund has
its own rules about the types of companies
it won’t own. Start your sleuthing at the
personal finance site SocialFunds.com,
where you can find mutual funds vetted
by your criteria, sign up for news alerts and
get a prospectus. Visit Morningstar.com to
search for information on a fund’s latest
holdings. Consider investing “on autopilot”
by using a socially responsible index fund,
which buys a basket of stocks and hangs
onto them. These funds typically have
lower fees than actively managed funds.
—Kerry Hannon, jobs and money columnist
of the Inter
which objected to Arizona’s
rule for voter