State or Federal Government: Who Defines Voting Requirements? The Legal Posturing Continues

Aug 26, 2013


  Kansas and Arizona

Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State, and Ken Bennett, Arizona Secretary of State, are joining forces to save laws requiring proof of citizenship when registering to vote reported the Wichita Eagle

The Arizona law was struck down by the Supreme Court this summer.  The Court cited a 1993 federal law that allows people to vote by declaring under penalty of perjury they are citizens.  The courts also said states can ask the Election Assistance Commission to include information on their forms as deemed necessary.  Kobach and Bennett are pursuing that route with a federal lawsuit, filed in Kansas, demanding the Election Assistance Commission modify election forms to include proof of citizenship for both Kansas and Arizona.

Currently, there are over 15,000 suspended registrations in Kansas.  Doug Bonney, the ACLU’s legal director in Kansas City, said Kobach’s latest court battle will do nothing to help the people whose registrations were suspended. He said laws like the one in Kansas and two other states only keep people out of the voting booth.

“The problem was the law was a solution in search of a problem,” Bonney said. “There is no evidence of a single case in Kansas, or elsewhere quite frankly, of citizenship fraud in order to register to vote.”


The Obama administration is stepping up efforts to protect minority voters in Texas said a recent article by the New York Times.  The Justice Department is filing paperwork to join civil rights groups and Texas lawmakers against the redistricting plan.  The Justice Department also filed a lawsuit to reimpose the requirement of federal pre-approval of any election rule changes.  The Supreme Court removed that requirement in June. 

Texas Republicans say the move is an intrusion on states’ rights. John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, said that “a politicized Justice Department” was “bent on inserting itself into the sovereign affairs of Texas,” adding, “We deserve the freedom to make our own laws, and we deserve not to be insulted by a Justice Department committed to scoring cheap political points.”

Gov. Rick Perry said, “The filing of endless litigation in an effort to obstruct the will of the people of Texas is what we have come to expect from Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama.  We will continue to defend the integrity of our elections against this administration’s blatant disregard for the 10th Amendment.”