The League of Women Voters of the United States along with the Alabama, Georgia, and Kansas state Leagues, filed a challenge to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC)’s decision to grant requests by Kansas, Georgia, and Alabama to amend the federal voter registration form to require documentary proof of citizenship from registrants in those states. LWV's lawsuit challenged this decision as a violation of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) and the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).
In February 2016, the League’s complaint was filed with the US District Court for the District of Columbia along with a motion for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to prevent the enforcement of the EAC’s decision. The District Court denied both our temporary restraining order and our motion for a preliminary injunction.
In July 2016, the League filed an appeal to the DC Circuit, who granted our preliminary injunction to prevent the enforcement of the documentary proof of citizenship. The case was then remanded back to the Election Assistance Commission to determine whether the executive director acted within his authority. In June 2017, the EAC announced that the executive director acted within his authority which meant that the injunction against enforcement stood while the case was pending in the district court.
In September 2021, the federal district court judge ruled that the states had violated the federal Administrative Procedures Act. The ruling held that the EAC’s decision violated the APA because Commissioner Newby’s did not make the determination that the proposed changes were necessary to enable the states to assess voter eligibility before approving the changes as required by the NVRA.
The League was represented by Stroock and Stroock and Lavan LLP, the Brennan Center for Justice, and Kirkland and Ellis LLP.
Election Assistance Commission letter
Election Assistance Commission Executive Director Newby sends a letter to the secretaries of state of Alabama, Georgia, and Kansas that allowed the three states to require citizenship documents for federal voter registration forms.
Court denies Motion for Temporary Restraining Order
Court denies Motion for Preliminary Injunction
Plaintiffs appeal order to DC Circuit
DC Circuit temporarily halts proof of citizenship requirement
The DC Circuit preliminarily enjoined the EAC from changing the federal voter registration form to allow Kansas, Alabama, and Georgia to require documentary proof of citizenship. That means documentary proof of citizenship was not on the federal form in 2016.
District Court remands case back to the Election Assistance Commission
Judge Leon instructed the Commission to determine whether Executive Director Newby had authority to allow the three states to require proof of citizenship on the federal form.
US District Court blocks the proof of citizenship voting requirement
The US District Court grants Plaintiffs’ request for summary judgment because the EAC did not make a determination that the proposed changes were "necessary" to enable the states to assess voter eligibility before approving the changes, as required by the NVRA. The court's final decision means that no state can require documentary proof of citizenship as part of the federal voter registration form going forward unless they make a new request to the EAC, and the EAC makes a new finding that the requirement is necessary to give effect to the state’s eligibility requirements.