Court upholds proof of citizenship for voters
A federal judge has ruled that Kansas and Arizona should be allowed to require voters to provide evidence of citizenship, in a case closely watched by both sides dealing with the question of voter eligibility.
District Judge Eric Melgren in Wichita ruled that the Election Assistance Commission had no legal authority to deny requests from the two states to add the citizenship requirement. In the ruling, released on Wednesday, he ordered the commission to revise the national form immediately.
Kansas and Arizona require new voters to provide a birth certificate, passport or other documentation to prove citizenship. The federal registration form, however, requires only that prospective voters sign a statement declaring they are citizens. The different requirements opened the possibility that residents of those states would have to register twice, using separate voter registration forms, if they wanted to vote in both state and federal elections.
The fight has political overtones. Republicans have generally argued in favor of tougher voting requirements, contending they prevent fraud. Democrats oppose the state standards, which they say can block voters — including the young and the poor — from registering to vote.
The top election officials, Kris Kobach of Kansas and Ken Bennett of Arizona, had sued to force the federal agency to include proof of citizenship. Both are considered conservative Republicans.
“This is a huge victory for the states of Kansas and Arizona,” Kobach said in a prepared statement. “They have successfully protected our sovereign right to set and enforce the qualifications for registering to vote. We have now paved the way for all 50 states to protect their voter rolls and ensure that only U.S. citizens can vote.”
“Today's decision is an important victory for the people of Arizona against the Obama administration, assuring that only Arizona residents and not illegals vote in Arizona elections,” Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said in a statement.
Election Assistance Commission spokesman Bryan Whitener said in an email that the ruling is “under review.”
The ruling can be appealed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Denver.
Melgren ruled that the Constitution gives states the power to set voter qualifications, and Congress has not pre-empted it. The case arose as the Supreme Court last year struck down part of Arizona's 2004 proof-of-citizenship law. The Kansas voter ID law took effect last year.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- House OKs end of oil export ban adopted in 1970s in response to Arab embargo
- Inmates help dying prisoners in Ohio hospice
- Officials: 1 dead, 3 wounded in Northern Arizona University shooting
- Officials: Broken rail caused February W.V. train derailment
- Dozens of terror plots disrupted in America, FBI claims
- 2 men arrested in 1984 rape, killing of girl, 14
- McCarthy drops out as GOP speaker candidate in shocker
- California heat wave brings storms
- Volkswagen exec ready to testify in D.C.
- McCarthy withdraws candidacy for speaker
- Coal industry seeks unusual partner in UN green climate fund