A federal judge will hear arguments Friday in the lawsuit filed by Kansas and Arizona requesting the national voter registration form be changed so that the two states can fully enforce proof-of-citizenship requirements for new voters ahead of the 2014 midterm elections. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Arizona counterpart Ken Bennett want the federal court to order the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to include instructions on the federal form that would require Kansas and Arizona residents to provide a birth certificate, passport or other proof of U.S. citizenship when registering to vote. Kobach has pushed the proof-of-citizenship policy as a way to prevent non-citizens — particularly immigrants living in the U.S. without legal permission — from registering and possibly voting. The U.S. Justice Department, which is representing the election commission, has argued that changing the requirements on the federal form for residents of Kansas and Arizona would in essence affect nationwide policy because it might encourage every state to seek increased proof of citizenship in order to register for federal elections. The current federal registration form requires only that someone sign a statement that he or she is a U.S. citizen.
The lawsuit, to be heard by U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren in Wichita, was sparked by a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June that found Arizona could not refuse to accept the national voter registration form, even though people who use it aren’t required to provide citizenship documents. Arizona instituted its proof-of-citizenship law in 2004.
Kansas and Arizona contend that unless their state-specific requirements are added to the federal form, they would be forced to institute a costly and cumbersome “bifurcated voter registration system” in order to enforce their more stringent registration laws. Under a dual registration system, people who use the state form and comply with the proof-of-citizenship rule could vote in any race on the ballot. But people who use the federal forms and don’t submit citizenship papers would be eligible to vote only in presidential, U.S. Senate and congressional races.
Full Article: Judge to hear arguments in voter citizenship suit – SFGate.