Court won’t reconsider Kansas, Arizona citizenship lawsuit
TOPEKA ? A federal appeals court has refused to reconsider a decision allowing residents of Kansas and Arizona to register to vote using a federal form without providing proof of their U.S. citizenship.
A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver issued a one-sentence ruling denying a request from the two states.
The appeals court ruled in November that Kansas and Arizona cannot demand help from federal officials in enforcing state laws requiring new voters to submit a birth certificate or other papers documenting U.S. citizenship.
The same panel overturned a ruling in March by U.S. District Court Judge Eric Melgren requiring the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to revise its federal voter registration form for those states to require proof of citizenship.
The decision means, for the time being at least, that Kansas can continue conducting a “dual” election system in which people who register to vote using the federal registration form may only vote in federal elections.
In 2011, at the urging of Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Kansas lawmakers passed a law requiring new voters to show proof of U.S. citizenship when registering to vote for the first time in their county. That law also required voters to show photo ID at the polls. The proof-of-citizenship requirement took effect in January 2013.
During the 2014 elections, more than 20,000 would-be voters had their registrations placed “in suspense” and were not allowed to vote because they had registered using the state form but had not provided the required citizenship documentation. A handful of voters who had registered using the federal form were allowed to vote in congressional races, but not in state or local elections.
In June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case involving Arizona that states must accept the federal registration form, and that they could request the Election Assistance Commission to provide a revised federal form that would ask for proof of citizenship.
Both Kansas and Arizona made such requests but they were denied. The states then sued, seeking an order to compel the EAC to provide revised forms.
There was no immediate word from either Kobach or Attorney General Derek Schmidt on whether the state would appeal again to the U.S. Supreme Court.