Kansas, Arizona prevail in voter citizenship suit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to help Kansas and Arizona enforce laws requiring new voters to provide proof of their U.S. citizenship.

U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren in Wichita, Kan., ruled Wednesday that the commission has no legal authority to deny requests from Kansas and Arizona to add state-specific instructions to a national voter registration form. The states sued to force the action.

Both states require new voters to provide proof of their U.S. citizenship to election officials. The federal registration form requires only that prospective voters sign a statement that they are citizens.

Melgren said the U.S. Constitution gives states the power to set voter qualifications, and Congress has not pre-empted it, even in enacting a federal voter-registration law in the 1990s.

The ruling drew strong reaction from Kansas Secretary of State candidate Jean Schodorf who issued a statement in a press release:

“I am appalled by Judge Melgren’s ruling today,” said Schodorf. “The Federal voter registration form did not create a loophole to Kobach’s proof of citizenship requirements, it ensured that Kansans are able to vote in all elections, Federal, state and local. Under Kobach’s two-tier voting scheme, some Kansans will be able to vote in all elections, while others will be unable to vote in their state and local elections, which would block their voice from key issues such as education and property taxes.”

Schodorf continued, “Kobach’s war on voting must stop. The Federal voter registration form includes an affidavit that prospective voters must sign swearing they are citizens. This form is a legal document, and if you lie on a legal document, you go to jail. Kris Kobach should be focused on running the Kansas Secretary of State’s office so our business owners and entrepreneurs can create more jobs in Kansas, instead of focusing on his personal agenda.”