Kobach, et al. v. Election Assistance Commission, et al., was about whether Arizona and Kansas could require voters to prove their citizenship when registering to vote with the so-called “federal form.” Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach led the suit against the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, which was an appeal of a lower court decision.
The Supreme Court had already ruled in 2013 that state proof-of-citizenship laws couldn’t be applied when people try to register with the federal form. The states’ direct request to the EAC was a last-ditch effort to get around that.
By not hearing the case, the Supreme Court effectively upheld the decision of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled against Arizona and Kansas in November 2014, saying the EAC did not have to modify its form to meet state laws. Under the federal form, would-be voters need only swear under penalty of perjury that they are citizens.
But Kobach still hopes states’ authority will be recognized.
“Our position in court is that we’re exercising our state’s right to define the qualifications of electors,”, “By creating this loophole, the federal agency is interfering,” he said in reference to the EAC.
Kobach emphasized the court’s decision not to review the case does not reflect its opinion on the issues of the case. “The Supreme Court decision not to review was not particularly surprising given the fact that there was no circuit split yet,” the secretary of state said.
The Kansas and Arizona laws stand, meaning that people wishing to register to vote with state forms are required to show proof of citizenship. Kobach said more than 99 percent of Kansans use the state forms, many refiling so they could vote in state elections. “But because of the Supreme Court decision not to review the case,” he added, “we do have a small limited loophole.” The slim majority that uses the federal form can “refuse to provide proof of citizenship,” he said, “but that will only vote in federal elections.”
Kobach said he’ll be sending another request to the EAC, but that that request will be presented differently from the state’s previously denied request.
“Every time an alien votes, it may not steal an election, but it will cancel out a vote of a U.S. citizen,” Kobach said.
This matter is the subject of a separate lawsuit that's pending before a state court judge in Kansas, brought by the ACLU and the League of Women Voters, so it may be some time before we get complete clarity.
Now will other states create this dual voter registration system?
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