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The ruling is good for many - who for example don't have a certified copy of their birth certificate. There are segments of society that didn't have their births documented for a variety of reasons. The opinion was written by Scalia!
Posted by afisher
Back in the mid 1970s i worked at a county welfare department where my major job was to determine eligibility for Medicaid and other welfare programs. The requirement then (and is now) is that in order to be eligible, one must be a natural born or naturalized citizen of the United States, a legal immigrant or fall into a special refugee catagory plus show proof of residency in the county. Documented proof of citizenship by birth usually meant showing an official birth certificate. If the person did not have one, we could write the county where they were born to request it and that would delay the application process. If no birth certificate was available, a family Bible with an entry in it was also proof and as a last resort we could access census records.
The problem was that many births occurred in the home back in the 1920s, 1930s and even into the 1940s and 1950s so there often was no "official record of the birth. In addition is seemed that every court house in Mississippi must have burned down since very often what was received was a notice that records were destroyed when the court house caught fire back in _____. Southern states, esecially Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and West Virginia had very poor record keeping. Therefore many people who were born to poor families had no record of their birth.
Naturalized citizens and legal immigrants very often had good records of their citizenship or legal status and seldom were unable to produce proof. But very often the poor black woman who was in her 60s and had been living in the United States since birth and may have raised a family or worked at a series of low paying jobs had no record or proof if citizenship even though her family had been living in this country for centuries. In many parts of the south, old slave records are much better indications of citizenship then birth records since slave owners often kept good records of slave births, deaths and sales.
In order to register to vote, one must show proof that they are eligible to vote. That means showing proof of legal immigrant status or citizenship. There are many different ways to prove citizenship including a birth certificate. But I have a close friend of mine whose birth certificate is from Istanbul Turkey. Her father was working there as an engineer for a large company with her mother at the time she was born. Even though she was born overseas and both her parents were citizens a the time of her birth; she still had to get a special document showing that she is a natural born citizen of the United States.
Once someone shows proof of citizenship, legal immigrant status and residency; they are cleared to vote by the local election board. Therefore it is silly and combersome to require some proof of citizenship to vote. That is the job of the local election boards when someone is registered to vote. The supreme court was right in this ruling.