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Addition to voter sign-ups blocked

| Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, 7:21 p.m.

WICHITA, Kan. — The U.S. Election Assistance Commission found on 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.

The decision was made 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.

Those states have enacted laws requiring new voters to provide a birth certificate, a passport or other proof of citizenship when registering to vote. Anyone who registers with the federal form only needs to sign a statement, under penalty of perjury, that he or she is a citizen.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has championed his state's proof-of-citizenship law to keep noncitizens from voting, particularly those in the United States illegally. But critics say voter fraud is extremely rare and contend that such laws suppress the vote and threaten to keep thousands of citizens from casting ballots.

Kobach wrote 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.

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