Election Law

Does national voter form have to include states' citizenship requirement? 10th Circuit to decide

Do national voter registration forms have to include proof of citizenship requirements imposed by Arizona and Kansas? That’s the issue that will be argued on Monday before the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals.

The New York Times, the Wichita Eagle and the Associated Press have stories on the case, an appeal of a judge’s order requiring modifications in the federal form to accommodate Arizona and Kansas. Both states require people registering to vote to provide proof of citizenship.

The federal court ruled in March that Congress did not pre-empt state laws requiring proof of citizenship to vote, and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission exceeded its statutory authority when it denied state requests to include citizenship requirements on the federal mail voter registration form.

Currently there is two-tier voting in Arizona and Kansas. Those who didn’t submit the required documentation may vote in federal, but not state and local elections. The federal law requires only a sworn statement of citizenship to vote.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach told the Wichita Eagle in a prior story that the case will probably turn on what the Supreme Court meant in last year’s decision Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council. The Supreme Court said Arizona’s citizenship requirement conflicted with the federal registration law. He points to language in the decision saying that states could challenge the Election Assistance Commission on what is necessary to establish voter qualifications.

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