DOJ Takes Unusual Step Of Opposing Federal Official In Voting Rights Case

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February 22, 2016 12:36 p.m.

In an unusual move Monday, the Department of Justice signaled it would be siding with the voting rights groups and against a federal official over whether proof of citizenship should be required to register to vote in three states.

The groups are suing Brian Newby, the recently appointed executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), over his decision to change the federal voting registration forms in Kansas, Georgia and Alabama to require proof of citizenship. The challengers say adding the requirement to the form violates the National Voter Registration Act and additionally that Newby failed to go through the typical protocols of making the change, which the commission opposed in the past.

The Department of Justice filed a brief Monday arguing that the requirement should be temporarily blocked while a full case is heard on the merits.

“The United States concedes that, because the challenged actions were not made on the basis of the NVRA’s ‘necessity’ criterion, defendants cannot succeed on the merits,” the brief said, referring to the law’s language concerning adding requirements to the form. “Because the government consents to entry of a preliminary injunction, the Court need not weigh all of the other injunction factors.”

According to Politico, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach — who Newby worked for as a local elections official before stepping into the EAC role — is also trying intervene in the case so he can defend the proof-of-citizenship requirement. He filed a brief to do so on Friday.

Read the DOJ request that the requirement be temporarily blocked below:

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