A federal judge has turned down a request to block a federal official’s move allowing three states to enforce proof-of-citizenship requirements for people attempting to register as voters. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon declined to issue the temporary restraining order civil rights and voting rights groups sought to block approval of changes the states of Alabama, Kansas and Georgia obtained recently to a federal form that can be used in lieu of state voter registration applications. “Given that the registration deadlines for the Alabama and Georgia primaries and for the Kansas Republican Caucus had already passed at the time this TRO motion was filed…and that the effects of [the federal] actions on the ongoing registration process for the Kansas Democratic Caucus and plaintiffs’ rights and efforts thereto are uncertain at best, plaintiffs have not demonstrated they will suffer irreparable harm before the hearing on their Motion for a Preliminary Injunction,” Leon wrote in a four-page order issued Tuesday afternoon.
Leon set that hearing for March 9, but he warned the League of Women Voters, the Georgia NAACP and other groups behind the lawsuit that they’ll need to make a stronger case in order to win an injunction then.
“The Court is not yet convinced that plaintiffs have demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on the merits and looks forward to the benefit of full, adversarial briefing on the complex and important issues this case presents, the judge wrote.
The suit was filed earlier this month against the federal Election Assistance Commission and its executive director Brian Newby after he approved the three states’ requests to change instructions on the federal registration form to include those states’ requirements for documentation of citizenship.