BAD DECISION ON PROOF OF CITIZENSHIP WILL HURT VOTERS

“U.S. District Judge ruling does not follow Supreme Court roadmap in ITCA,” says League

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. District Court for Kansas issued a ruling in Kobach v. U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) that approves the documentary proof of citizenship requirement for voter registration by the states of Arizona and Kansas, saying it is not preempted by the federal National Voter Registration Act. Previously, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona (ITCA) that such a requirement is preempted by the federal law, but left room for further consideration of additional issues. The Leagues of Women Voters of the United States, Arizona and Kansas submitted a merits brief to the court as defendant-interveners in this case.

“This decision is profoundly disappointing,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. “The judge didn't follow the roadmap laid out by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Arizona v. ITCA decision, which allowed for consideration of new factual and constitutional issues. Instead, the court chose to reopen the issue of federal preemption by questioning the actions of the EAC in rejecting the Arizona and Kansas requests to modify the National Mail Voter Registration Form.

“The decision is so broad that it would allow a state to implement almost any restriction on voter registration,” said MacNamara.

“It is a harsh decision that will hurt voters for no real reason,” MacNamara said. “The court made an incorrect legal decision, and we are confident it will be overturned.”

League leaders in Arizona and Kansas also reacted with disapproval at the court’s decision. Robyn Prud’homme-Bauer, president of the League of Women Voters of Arizona, vowed to “continue working to protect the rights of all Arizona voters.”

Dolores Furtado, president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas, said “we have experienced first-hand the harmful effects that documentary proof of citizenship requirements have had on new voter applicants and voter service organizations, like ours, in Kansas.”

Earlier this year, the League of Women Voters of the United States joined with the League of Women Voters of Arizona and the League of Women Voters of Kansas to file comments with the EAC regarding the requests made by the Secretaries of State of Arizona and Kansas. Previously the League filed a motion and was allowed to intervene in the Kobach case.

The League is represented in this case by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, as well as pro bono counsel Kirkland & Ellis LLP and David G. Seely of the law firm Fleeson, Gooing, Coulson & Kitch, LLC.

Contact: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331, kceballos@lwv.org

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The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.