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Archive for Saturday, January 18, 2014

Feds deny Kansas’ bid to tighten voter registration

January 18, 2014

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The U.S. Election Assistance Commission found Friday that heightened proof-of-citizenship requirements likely would hinder eligible citizens from voting in federal elections, handing down a ruling that denied requests from Kansas, Arizona and Georgia to modify the registration form for their residents.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said in an email that he had anticipated the adverse ruling from the commission and the states will now press their constitutional claims before the U.S. District Court in Kansas. He argues the decision is unconstitutional because it prevents Kansas and Arizona from securing their voter rolls.

The decision came just hours before a court-imposed deadline in a lawsuit filed in federal court by Kansas and Arizona that seeks to force the commission to modify state-specific requirements for registering to vote in those states. Georgia, which has a similar voter registration law, is not part of the litigation but was included in the commission's decision.

The states have enacted laws requiring new voters to provide a birth certificate, passport or other proof of U.S. citizenship when registering to vote. People who register using the federal form only need to sign a statement, under penalty of perjury, that he or she is a U.S. citizen.

Kobach has championed 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 EAC's reasoning reflects the partisan view of the Obama Justice Department that requiring voters to provide documentary proof of citizenship at the time of registration is undesirable as a policy matter," Kobach said. "However, the EAC has no authority to second-guess the policy decisions of the sovereign states of Kansas and Arizona."

In its decision, the EAC found that added documentation burdens do not enhance voter participation and result in an overall decrease in registration of eligible citizens — undermining the core purpose of the National Voter Registration Act.

It cited as evidence the problems Kansas already has experienced with its own enhanced voter registration requirements. The voter registrations of 20,127 Kansans remained on hold last week because they've not yet provided proof of their citizenship to election officials.

States already have other means available to enforce citizenship requirements without requiring additional information from applicants, including access to national databases of birth certificates and naturalization information, the agency noted.

Given the "paucity of evidence" provided by the states regarding noncitizens registering to vote, the new voter registration requirements enacted by the states reflect "legislative policy preferences" and are not based on any demonstrated necessity, the agency said. It also said that the heightened documentation requirements imposed by Kansas and Arizona have led to significant reductions in organized voter registration programs.

"This is a significant decision for all eligible voters underscoring the purpose of the National Voter Registration Act to remove barriers such as documentary proof of citizenship that prevent eligible citizens from registering to vote and voting," Michelle Kanter Cohen, a lawyer representing Project Vote in the states' lawsuit in Kansas, said in an email Saturday.

"What we have seen where these laws have been implemented in Arizona and Kansas is that tens of thousands of eligible Americans have been rejected or suspended from the voter rolls, and community voter registration drives have been significantly hampered," Cohen said.

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 a federal court to order EAC to modify the federal registration form with state-specific requirements, he would institute — on his own authority as Kansas secretary of state — a dual registration that limits Kansans who register with the federal form to voting only in presidential, U.S. Senate and congressional races.

"We applaud the EAC's decision to uphold this law and protect the right to vote," said Wendy Weiser, director of the Brennan Center's Democracy Program at NYU School of Law, which represents the League of Women Voters in the Kansas litigation. "We hope Arizona and Kansas abandon their quest to undermine federal law by making voter registration more complicated."

Comments

Richard Heckler 11 months ago

First of all is there a need to secure our voter rolls? Where is the hard evidence?

This is a Kris Kobach fantasy and fraud.

Richard Heckler 11 months ago

Rather than serve the public interest, ALEC champions the agenda of corporations which are willing to pay for access to legislators and the opportunity to write their very own legislation.

It helps surrogates and lobbyists for corporations draft and promote bills which:

  1. gut environmental laws

  2. create a regressive tax system

  3. eliminate workers’ rights

  4. undermine universal and affordable health care

  5. privatize public education

  6. chip away at voting rights.

http://www.pfaw.org/rww-in-focus/alec-the-voice-of-corporate-special-interests-state-legislatures#Voter

Julius Nolan 11 months ago

Kris Kobach, just insists on his solution to a problem that doesn't exist. The biggest voter fraud in Kansas is the solution that he is trying to implement.

Thomas Bryce 11 months ago

Merriam Webster's Definition of Fraud:"Intentional perversion of the truth in order to induce another to part with something of value or to surrender a legal right." Yep! That about covers it, Huh? Amen, Julius. Amen.

MerriAnnie Smith 11 months ago

Kobach has no ethical bottom. He has sunk so low in ethics that he probably has no idea what good ethics is. It's all partisan to him.

This nation has struggled down through its history to assure that every citizen has a right to vote. We've gone through many dark years where we've denied or blocked the votes of right at half our citizens.

In the beginning our so-called founding fathers refused to allow anybody who wasn't a wealthy landowner, male only, to vote. They preached Democracy but only for the wealthy male. What a bunch of hypocrites! Calling it Democracy when it is only for the wealthy male.

But thankfully, in time, progress in human rights slowly crept into our mindsets and now, as the law stands, every citizen who is old enough to vote and is not in prison, has a legal right to vote.

There is no way Kobach can attack that legal right, so he goes after people's ABILITY to vote.

If ever this country falls, it will be due to men with no ethics working toward partisan goals that reward only the few and excludes the many. Then we can kiss any semblance of democracy we have left goodbye.

Thanks, Kobach. You're a real piece of work.

Julius Nolan 11 months ago

To have ethics, you must understand what they are. Does Kris have a clue?

MerriAnnie Smith 11 months ago

Either he doesn't know or he doesn't care. I'll say he knows but he doesn't care. He's a detestable man. You can even see smarmy all over his snooty face. Not to mention, he has the look of a spoiled boy. He's proud of himself, and he respects other men like him. Yes, he's well aware. He thinks it's cool to be a privileged jerk.

William Enick 11 months ago

You must take into account the sanctity of the Conservative movement. Please understand that I don't use the word "sanctity" loosely. They "KNOW" they are secure from violation. They "KNOW' they are incorruptible and unassailable. They "KNOW" God is with them. The people who would be unable to vote are corrupted. They are beyond being wrong...because they are beyond being right...they are incorrigible, that is their lot in life. Please realize that the Conservative movement must rule. Grasp the fact that their will never be a non Christian Governor in Kansas. Please look into this phenomenon further. It's difficult for many reasons...one of which is that the secrecy must be kept...Sanctity requires secrecy of course. God's righteous plan would not become law without it. Without secrecy God's work would be undermined.

Thomas Bryce 11 months ago

Then 'The Holier Than Thou" attitude will be their undoing! Just like the Hand that clenches sand, the tighter they grip, the more slips through their fingers until they are left with nothing but an empty, clenched fist and an Anger and Hatred for all others in their hearts.

MerriAnnie Smith 11 months ago

Let's hope Brownback goes in that direction, too. He has more power to hurt the state than even Kobach.

Steve King 11 months ago

"Paucity of evidence"

Clearly. Documented fraud: 20/1,700,000 = 0.000012. That's Five decimal places. Five decimal places!

And now for our protection 1,000 times that many are refused the right to vote. 20,000 today. How soon until it's 30,000. Or 50,000? Remember all the new people that moving here for all the new jobs? And he's on record that if the Federal Courts rule against him he'll institute an even more draconian and cumbersome registration system?

Where is the outrage?

Why is he still around and what hasn't there been a movement to remove him from office? I'll write a check to help that get going.

MerriAnnie Smith 11 months ago

I hope the outrage will be shown on election day when we oust Brownback and Kobach at the same time.

If people whose votes are being disenfranchised by Kobach and whose lives are being negatively affected by Brownback and his co-horts in the legislature don't come out and vote these dogs out, there is no hope for this country or this state.

People need to get serious about this.

Richard Heckler 11 months ago

ALEC has a new partner named Aegis Strategic

The firm, named Aegis Strategic, is run by a former top executive at Charles and David Koch's flagship advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity, and it was founded with the blessing of the brothers' political advisers, three Republican operatives tell Mother Jones.

The consulting firm plans to handpick local, state, and federal candidates who share the Kochs' free-market, limited-government agenda, and groom them to win elections.

"We seek out electable advocates of the freedom and opportunity agenda who will be forceful at both the policy and political levels," the company notes on its website.

Aegis says it can manage every aspect of a campaign, including advertising, direct mail, social media, and fundraising. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/01/koch-brothers-candidate-training-recruiting-aegis-strategic

John Birch Society Celebrates Koch Family For Their Role In Founding The Hate Group http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/06/10/242334/john-birch-society-celebrates-koch/

United States of ALEC http://www.democracynow.org/2012/9/27/the_united_states_of_alec_bill

ALEC – The Voice of Corporate Special Interests in State Legislatures http://www.pfaw.org/rww-in-focus/alec-the-voice-of-corporate-special-interests-state-legislatures

ALEX EXPOSED – The Koch Connection http://www.thenation.com/article/161973/alec-exposed-koch-connection

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