Kansas And Arizona Voter Registration Fight Not Over Yet

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach answers questions from reporters during a news conference about a federal judge's ruling ordering the federal government to help Kansas and Arizona enforce their proof-of-citizen... Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach answers questions from reporters during a news conference about a federal judge's ruling ordering the federal government to help Kansas and Arizona enforce their proof-of-citizenship requirements for new voters, Wednesday, March 19, 2014, in Topeka, Kan. Kobach and Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett filed a lawsuit over the issue. (AP Photo/John Hanna) MORE LESS
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A federal appeals court breathed new life this week into the long-running fight over voter registration in Kansas and Arizona.

At stake is whether or not the U.S. Election Assistance Commission will have to add state-specific instructions about Kansas and Arizona’s proof-of-citizenship requirements to the federal voter registration form. A federal district judge ruled in favor of the states in March, saying that the commission had unlawfully denied the states’ requests. On Thursday, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals granted a temporary stay to the lower judge’s ruling, which was sought by the commission and a collection of voting rights groups.

According to the Associated Press, circuit Judges Carlos Lucero and Jerome Holmes granted the emergency stay one day after the lower judge, U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren, rejected a request to suspend his ruling pending the commission’s appeal. The 10th circuit judges gave Kansas and Arizona until Tuesday to respond to the commission’s request that the ruling be stayed during the appeal.

Arizona Advocacy Network, one of the voting rights groups involved in the case, hailed the ruling. Sam Wercinski, the group’s executive director, put out a statement calling Thurday “a good day for Arizona voters and civic engagement groups helping citizens to register and vote.”

But Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach told TPM on Friday that of the two rulings this week, he considered Melgren’s denial of the commission’s request to be the more significant.

“The temporary emergency stay is not of great consequence,” Kobach said, describing the matter as “procedural.”

Still, Kobach said, if the appeals court does grant a stay to Melgren’s order while the case is still pending, that could lead to the return of a scenario envisioned last year: two-tier voting.

Both Kansas and Arizona have passed proof-of-citizenship laws, and require voters registering via state forms to show that documentation. If the Election Assistance Commission does not add the state-specific proof-of-citizenship language for each state, officials in both states have previously made plans where citizens who do not show documentation when using the federal form would then be eligible to vote only in federal elections, not state or local ones.

Kobach said he expected the 10th circuit court to decide “relatively” quickly on whether or not the stay would remain in place during the appeal.

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Notable Replies

  1. Avatar for jep07 jep07 says:

    codifying the classes…
    Citizens United, now this…so much for equal protection

  2. Avatar for jep07 jep07 says:

    what a waste of time and resources, can you imagine the cost this will add to the process? Is Kansas going to pay for it? Arizona? Do these zealots have any idea what sort of contempt real patriots of the future will hold for them?

  3. Republicans are in a difficult spot.

    On the one hand, they’ve got a Teabagger base full of racists, bigots, homophobes and xenophobes who are threatening secession because that’s how much they hate the black guy in the White House.

    On the other, they’re dealing with a demographic reality that threatens to make them electorally irrelevant if they stick with the Teabagger racists, bigots, homophobes and xenophobes and ignore everyone else.

    And once again, when Republican dogma (Voter Suppression laws) is proved flat wrong, Republicans react not with self-reflection and reconsideration, rather they try to suppress the proof that their dogma has been proved flat wrong. Because if they’re going to be flat wrong, they might as well be dishonest about it too.

  4. Kris Kobach, Kansas?

  5. Dorothy, you wouldn’t want to be in Kansas anymore! Neither would Toto.

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