Facing the possibility of legal action over 15,000-plus suspended voter registrations, Secretary of State Kris Kobach struck back by announcing Wednesday his own suit against a federal election commission. Kobach said at a news conference that he and Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, both Republicans, have filed a complaint against the U.S. Election Assistance Commission asking that federal voter registration forms issued to residents of their states include state-specific proof of citizenship requirements like the ones on state forms largely responsible for putting thousands of Kansas registrations on hold. Kobach said the court case is “the first of its kind.” Kansas voters will be best served when the EAC amends the Kansas-specific instructions on the Federal Form to include submitting concrete evidence of U.S. citizenship when registering to vote,” Kobach said.
Kobach said the lawsuit would partially preempt a suit being prepared but he American Civil Liberties Union over the suspended registrations. “It does block many of the arguments the ACLU might wish to raise,” Kobach said.
Doug Bonney, legal director for the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri, said the lawsuit was “no surprise.”
“We knew that he was going to do this, or at least anticipated he would,” Bonney said Wednesday.
… Kobach said EAC action on the matter “has been unlawfully withheld and unreasonably delayed” due to the fact that the agency’s four commissioner positions are all currently vacant. Two appointees are awaiting Senate confirmation, but a bill was introduced in the U.S. House in 2011 that would abolish the commission formed in 2002 by the Help America Vote Act.
Kobach said that until the case is resolved, Kansans will be able to register using the federal forms but only vote in federal races, not those for state seats like his, or the governor’s.
Kobach expressed little concern about the thousands of registrations in suspension pending proof of citizenship documents, calling that a “natural consequence of the way we wrote the law.”