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READ: Suit Filed Challenging Move to Require Voter Proof Of Citizenship In 3 States

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AP Photo / John Hanna

"The timing of the Executive Director’s decision jeopardizes the integrity of several upcoming federal elections," the suit says, noting Kansas' caucus and Alabama's primary next month.

Newby's decision to change the federal voting registration forms in Kansas, Georgia and Alabama to require proof of citizenship late last month was seen as an unexpected reversal from previous decisions by the EAC that rejected requests for the change.

The suit accuses Newby of breaking at least five different commission policies in pushing the change, including acting out of the scope of his authority and posting the change without a public comments period.

Adding scrutiny to his move is that Newby previously worked under Kris Kobach -- Kansas' Secretary of State and a champion of voter restriction laws -- as a local elections official in the state's largest county. Kobach's latest request to the EAC to change the federal form came shortly after Newby was appointed.

"Just two weeks after Newby was appointed as the EAC’s Executive Director, Kansas submitted its fifth request to amend the Federal Form," the suit says. "Tellingly, while Mr. Newby failed to provide formal public notice and an opportunity to comment before changing the EAC’s policy, on information and belief, he entertained several ex parte communications from the Kansas Secretary of State, along with similar communications with officials from
Alabama and Georgia, before he approved the States’ requests."

Civil rights activists say proof-of-citizenship requirements disenfranchise lower income people, minorities, the elderly, and other who may not have access to the documents necessary to register to vote under the mandate.

For years, the states that have passed laws requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote have been unable to fully implement the requirement because residents could still register using the federal form, which previously required a sworn affidavit that one is a citizen.

States wishing to require voter proof of citizenship have also lost a number of court battles seeking to add the requirement to the federal form.

Read Friday's lawsuit below:

About The Author

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Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.