Archive for Monday, August 25, 2014

Appeals court questions proof-of-citizenship rules

August 25, 2014, 10:37 a.m. Updated August 25, 2014, 4:38 p.m.


— A federal appeals panel in Denver on Monday suggested that a partisan stalemate in Congress may mean that Republicans in Kansas and Arizona will be unable to force federal election officials to impose proof-of-citizenship requirements on voter registration forms.

Those two states sued the Elections Assistance Commission after the agency refused to adjust the federal voting registration forms it distributed in Kansas and Arizona to reflect those states' requirements that voters present documentation that proves they are citizens.

A lower court found the commission needed to include the more stringent state language. But on Monday, a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals noted that Congress has not approved a single commissioner to sit on the commission in three years.

The judges were skeptical the agency could decide whether to change the federal form, one way or the other, without any commissioners.

That would leave Kansas and Arizona without a formal decision to challenge in court.

"A political decision has been made by the political branches that they don't wish to appoint commissioners to the Elections Assistance Commission," Judge Carlos Lucero told Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who argued the case for both states. "All of a sudden the courts are asked to step into inherently political questions and make political decisions."

Kobach told the panel that preserving the status quo creates two tiers of voters in each state. "According to our Constitution, there cannot be one voter roll for state elections and another one for federal elections," he said.

In Kansas, 180 people were registered through federal forms that do not require proof of citizenship and were not permitted to vote for state offices in a primary earlier this month because they did not comply with state standards for voting.

Arizona, which has its primary Tuesday, could have hundreds or thousands of voters similarly unable to cast a ballot in state races, Kobach said.

Both states argue their requirements prevent voter fraud by thwarting voting by noncitizens. Critics of such laws view them as suppressing voter turnout, noting that there have been minimal documented cases of voter fraud and far more cases of citizens who have encountered trouble being allowed to vote under the rules. But both sides agree the potential impacts of the case could extend to other states.

Arizona voters passed their law in 2004 in response to an influx of illegal immigration and fears of voting fraud, and activists there have long complained the measure makes it harder to register members of the state's growing Hispanic population. Kansas was one of several states that passed similar laws shortly thereafter.

The appeals court panel heard the arguments on an expedited basis with the hopes of issuing a ruling before Election Day in November.

A ruling upholding the lower court's decision would likely lead to several other states demanding the federal government add their language to its voter registration forms.

The lower court judge had to order commission staff to make a decision without any seated commissioners so that Kansas and Arizona could have their day in court.

Bonnie Robin-Vergeer, who argued the case for the federal commission, contended the agency's staff had the power to make the decision and that it was the appropriate one.

Noting that Congress wants to make it easier to vote and that only citizens are permitted to cast a ballot under either system, she said: "The federal form provides a backstop, no matter what procedural hurdles a state's form may present, that there is a simple way of registering to vote."

The case has been carefully watched, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic lawmakers joining the federal government's appeal to overturn the lower court's decision.


Kate Rogge 3 years, 7 months ago

More evidence of Kobach's disgraceful efforts to build his political career on the denial of voting rights:{%222%22%3A%22RI%3A16%22}&_r=0

Judge Eric F. Melgren was appointed to the United States District Court for the District of Kansas by George W. Bush in 2008.

Why isn't the Lawrence Journal World following this story more closely? It's only our voting rights at stake here.

Brock Masters 3 years, 7 months ago

Kobach is the best SOS Kansas has had. One more term!

Philipp Wannemaker 3 years, 7 months ago

Think the wording is worst POS, not best SOS.

Kate Rogge 3 years, 7 months ago

And more about Judge Melgren's decision in March 2014:

"Judge Melgren’s decision holds particular significance this election year, as it could prevent thousands of people from voting just as the governorship and other major offices are on the ballot in both states."

It's dirty partisan politics any way you try to cut it. Kobach and Brownback are disgraces and should be turned out of office.

Brock Masters 3 years, 7 months ago

They have had plenty of time to get the proper documentation. If they want to vote they can. The ACA requires documentation of citizenship and they kicked back a lot of applications for not proving citizenship.

It is not hard to register if you want.

Philipp Wannemaker 3 years, 7 months ago

Still waiting for proof of the voter fraud that is overwhelming the country. Biggest fraud I've seen is brownie and koback's fraudulent lies to voters

Brock Masters 3 years, 7 months ago

Overwhelming voter fraud, nope. But the voter ID law is a good one even if it only stops a small amount of fraud.

Philipp Wannemaker 3 years, 7 months ago

Still waiting for some proof of voter fraud, that is proven, prosecuted and convicted for fraud. And exactly what possible election could they affect? In other words, something other than false rumors and in many cases outright lies about massive amounts of fraud. Some reasonable studies say about 1 possible, not proven for every 15 million votes cast.

Brock Masters 3 years, 7 months ago

Tell you what Phil, I bet I can get you proof of voter fraud before you can show me where any reputable person or group has suggested that there is massive amount of fraud.

Ready, set, go.

Here is a link to known voter fraud by state.

Brock Masters 3 years, 7 months ago

Well Phil looks like you can't back up what you said.

Kate Rogge 3 years, 7 months ago

"But the voter ID law is a good one even if it only stops a small amount of fraud." No, sir, it is not good to disenfranchise 10,000 to stop a single fraudulently registered voter.

Brock Masters 3 years, 7 months ago

They have disenfranchised themselves. They can get the documents they need to vote but choose not to get or provide them.

Kate Rogge 3 years, 7 months ago

They have been purposefully disenfranchised by Republican states such as Kansas, Arizona, and Pennsylvania. Why is it only Republican controlled states that prefer to deny the vote to American citizens who move into their states? I moved from Lawrence to Pennsylvania (R) last fall and had to provide a birth certificate to register to vote there. I did. I moved back to Lawrence in June and brought my birth certificate to re-register to vote here. My question is, why should any American citizen have to carry their birth certificate to move from one state to another and register to vote? Nothing is more fundamental to democracy than our right to vote.

As to getting birth certificates to register, different states have different fees and sources from which to obtain your own birth certificate. See the following for certificate options:

Douglas County will help locate and pay for new registrants' birth certificates, but that is not business as usual throughout the state, let alone the country. So tell me again why only Republican held state governments prefer to disenfranchise so many American citizens in a patently phony snipe hunt for fraudulently registered voters?

Brock Masters 3 years, 7 months ago

"My question is, why should any American citizen have to carry their birth certificate to move from one state to another and register to vote?"

Besides proof of citizenship for a passport, the ACA and school, I think it is also required for a marriage license.

Why only GOP states? Because conservatives are concerned about the integrity of our election system and if not the real, then the perceived threat of non-citizens voting.

Why have a law to require citizenship to vote if you don't enforce it?

Kate Rogge 3 years, 7 months ago

"...and if not the real, then the perceived threat of non-citizens voting." Yes, that is exactly the point to be made here. The threat is not real, and the perceived threat is nonsense, sir, and nonsense is clearly insufficient reason to purposefully disenfranchise American citizens. Some conservatives, of which you may be one, are concerned only that non-conservatives may be able to vote. Why aren't you upset that any American citizen, let alone an estimated 19,000 here in Kansas, may be denied their right to vote because of the laws you concede are based upon perceived and unreal threats?

"In Kansas, while the federal-only rolls are small, about 19,000 applicants have been placed on a “suspense list” because their state forms are incomplete, in some cases because they did not provide the newly required proof of citizenship, said Dolores Furtado, president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas."

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 7 months ago

Philipp, I think I have seen signs of voter fraud. I mean how did Kobach and company ever get elected?

Brock Masters 3 years, 7 months ago

He got elected because his message resonates with more people than his opponents. Looking forward to his second term which will be a mandate of the voters to keep doing what he has been doing.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 7 months ago

Well let's go in circles. If the evil liberals have been committing so much voter fraud, then how did Kobach get elected? And if there is no evidence of mass voter fraud, then why are we spending all out tax dollars defending questionable laws that Kobach has created?

James Howlette 3 years, 7 months ago

Aside from the fix for imaginary unicorn bogeyman fraudulent voters, the problem is that someone goes in to get their driver's license. They register to vote. They have the proper documentation. It doesn't matter. The DMV registration system doesn't have the ability to validate that they've produced proof of citizenship, and Kobach is refusing to waive the requirement until the system can be fixed. They end up being registered for federal votes but not state votes. A "suspended" registration.

Kobach is adding taxpayer expense and paperwork to end a problem that doesn't exist and cause problems that previously did not exist. So you approve of all this extra taxpayer money and worker productivity being spent recklessly on silly things? I thought you wanted smaller government.

Steve King 3 years, 7 months ago

You made me laugh. A second term. Too funny. Your reality check will be in the mail in November.

Brock Masters 3 years, 7 months ago

Tell you what Steve, let's make a little wager. If Kobach wins you go away forever and if he loses I will go away forever.

I am confident he will win. How confident are you that he will lose?

Man enough for the challenge?

Philipp Wannemaker 3 years, 7 months ago

Actually we would all win if Koback would simply shut up and go away. All he has done is make a lot of money off some peoples sheer stupidity and ignorance,

Steve King 3 years, 7 months ago

I'm your huckelberry. I already planned to move out of this backward state if Sam, Kris et al get elected again anyway.

Now if we only knew your name...

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