Judge orders federal commission to add Kansas and Arizona voting requirements

Mar 20, 2014

Credit kwch.com

A Wichita judge ordered the Election Assistance Commission to enforce Kansas and Arizona laws requiring additional documents to prove citizenship for new voters reported the Wichita Eagle.

U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren ordered the federal commission to immediately add Kansas and Arizona specific instructions to the federal voter registration form.

Voting privileges for approximately 15,000 Kansas registrants are currently suspended because of failure to provide proof of their citizenship.

The court decision is a victory for Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.  Kobach has guided the state’s proof-of-citizenship law through the Kansas Legislature.  He was given the responsibility of defending the law in court by Attorney General Derek Schmidt. 

Arizona became a co-plaintiff in the Wichita case after a Supreme Court ruling went against its proof-of-citizenship law last year.

Melgren’s decision was welcomed by Kobach who acknowledged it might not be the last word.

Former State Sen. Jean Schodorf plans to run against Kobach in the November election.  She said she was appalled by Melgren’s decision.  She also said it would continue and very probably grow the list of suspended voters.

“It’s continuing the suppression of voting, or, as I call it, the war on voting,” Schodorf said. “I really don’t think Kansas citizens want that. We’ve got to make it easier and seamless for Kansans to register to vote.”

Melgren is a former U.S. attorney for Kansas during the George W. Bush Administration.  He did not address the constitutionality of the proof-of-citizenship requirement itself.  His ruling primarily found that the Election Assistance Commission doesn’t have the authority to reject Kansas’ and Arizona’s request that their proof-of-citizenship requirements be added to the federal voting registration form.

Melgren said the U.S. Constitution gives states the power to set voter qualifications.

The rest of the story by Dion Lefler for the Wichita Eagle can be found here.