National News

January 18, 2014

Feds reject voter registration changes for states

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission on Friday rejected requests by Kansas, Arizona and Georgia to modify federal registration forms to allow their states to fully implement proof-of-citizen voting laws for their residents.

The decision came just hours before a court-imposed deadline in a lawsuit filed by Kansas and Arizona in U.S. District Court in Kansas. Georgia is not part of that litigation but has similar requirements.

The agency found that granting the states’ requests would “likely hinder eligible citizens from registering to vote in federal elections,” undermining the core purpose of the National Voter Registration Act.

Most immediately, the issue will likely return to the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren, who has held onto litigation in anticipation of further proceedings.

Both states enacted laws requiring new voters to provide a birth certificate, passport or other proof of U.S. citizenship when registering to vote, and most voters use state forms that enforce the requirement. But some voters use the federal form, which requires only that someone sign a statement under oath that he or she is a U.S. citizen, and Kansas and Arizona want to force a change to close what their officials see as a loophole in enforcement of their proof-of-citizenship requirements.

The U.S. Justice Department has argued that changing the requirements on the federal form for residents of Kansas and Arizona would in essence affect nationwide policy because it might encourage every state to seek increased proof of citizenship in order to register for federal elections.

Secretary of State Kris Kobach has pushed his state’s proof-of-citizenship law to keep non-citizens from voting particularly those in the U.S. illegally. But critics say voter fraud is extremely rare and contend such laws suppress the vote and threaten to keep thousands of citizens from casting ballots. The registrations of 20,127 Kansans remained on hold Friday because they’ve not yet provided proof of their citizenship to election officials.

The court is expected to set an evidentiary hearing to take up the states’ request that the judge force the commission to modify their form.

Melgren said last month he has serious reservations about the federal government’s power to rule on the voter registration issue. Regardless of how the judge ultimately rules in the case, the issue is likely to be appealed.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that Arizona could not refuse to accept the national voter registration form, even though people who use it aren’t required to provide citizenship documents.

Kobach has said that if he cannot get either the commission or Melgren to modify the federal registration form with state-specific requirements, he would institute a dual registration that limits Kansans who register with the federal form to voting only in presidential, U.S. Senate and congressional races.  

A separate American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit contends Kobach has no authority to create a dual registration system in Kansas.

Several Democratic lawmakers in Kansas have proposed rewriting or repealing the state’s proof-of-citizenship law. Former state Sen. Jean Schodorf, the expected Democratic challenger for Kobach, is calling on legislators to audit how Kobach’s office has administered the law.

 

1
Text Only
National News
  • 10

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday:
     

    July 27, 2014

  • In other news

    June 29, 2014

  • 10 things to know for Monday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday:

    June 29, 2014

  • 10 things to know for Monday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday:

    June 22, 2014

  • 10 Things to Know for Thursday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday.

    May 28, 2014

  • TV show seeks teen rebels for reality show

    A television producer is seeking teenagers as young as 13 who like to make their own rules and “party like a rock star” to participate in a reality television series about their lives.

    May 28, 2014

  • Sterling responds to NBA, June 3 hearing still on

    Donald Sterling and the NBA are headed toward a hearing that will determine if he remains owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.

    May 28, 2014

  • Lawmakers, mourners weigh in on California rampage

    Thousands mourned the deaths of their classmates at a California university, lawmakers proposed ways to prevent the next round of deaths, and the rampant presence of guns were at the forefront of both discussions as a rampage that left seven dead reverberated across the state.

    May 28, 2014

  • Nebraska woman wolfs down 2 4 1/2-pound steaks

    A Nebraska woman celebrated breaking a Texas steakhouse’s speed record for eating a 4 1/2-pound slab of beef by polishing off another one.

    May 28, 2014

  • 10 Things to Know for Wednesday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday.

    May 28, 2014