Judge rules new voters in Arizona, Kansas should prove citizenship to vote

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Wichita, KS, United States (4E) – A federal judge in Kansas ordered Wednesday the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to put Arizona and Kansas’ requirement to show proof of citizenship in the state-specific instructions on the federal voter registration form.

Judge Eric F. Melgren issued the order as he ruled that the Constitution empowers states to determine voter qualifications and the EAC cannot overrule such power. Melgren cited last year’s ruling by the Supreme Court in the case “Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona” that the EAC could not refuse a state request to include proof of citizenship on new voter registration forms distributed within that state.

The ruling was in response to a suit Kansas filed against EAC for refusing to add the requirement in state registration forms for new voters as provided under state laws. Arizona was included in the case for refusing to process federal forms that did not indicate the state requirement.

“The EAC’s nondiscretionary duty is to perform the ministerial function of updating the instructions to reflect each state’s laws,” said Melgren in his ruling, according to Washington Times. “The court orders the EAC to add the language requested by Arizona and Kansas to the state-specific instructions of the federal mail voter registration form immediately.”

Kansas Secretary of State Kris W. Kobach and Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett welcomed Melgren’s decision.

Kansas and Arizona laws require new voters to show documents such as a birth certificate or passport proving citizenship before they can vote. Voters are also required to show their driver’s license or other state-issued photo ID when they vote at the polls.

About 15,000 Kansas registrants did not provide proof of their citizenship causing their voting privileges to be suspended. In Arizona, about 2,000 registrants submitted federal forms in the state without proof of citizenship, according to Bennett.

The EAC is expected to appeal the decision.

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