Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an appeals court decision and restore a state law he wrote requiring proof-of-citizenship documents to register to vote. Kobach wants the Supreme Court to undo the November decision by the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeal, in a case pitting Kansas and Arizona against the federal Election Assistance Commission and a bevy of voting rights groups. The appeals court ruled that the states could not require document citizenship proof from prospective voters who register using a federal form that doesn’t demand it – and that the commission doesn’t have to alter the federal registration form to comply with the states’ demands.
Kobach argues Supreme Court guidance is needed because the case is of paramount national importance. “It’s a really profoundly important case,” Kobach said. “The founding fathers were emphatic that the states get to decide who is a qualified voter and who is not. It was a critical point in the Constitution that the federal government would have to follow the states on this matter.
“In other words, the qualifications for voting for a member of Congress in Kansas would have to be the same as those for voting for a member of the Kansas Legislature and it was the states who would set the rules and Congress would follow, not vice versa. What this federal agency has done is turn the founding fathers’ notion on its head.”
Election Assistance Commission officials could not be reached late Thursday. Dolores Furtado, president of the Kansas chapter of the League of Women Voters, said the league will continue its intervention in the case on the federal commission’s side.