National: Coronavirus-Fueled Freeze on Citizen Oath Ceremonies Threatens Voter Registration for 2020 | Michelle Hackman and Eliza Collins/Wall Street Journal

A swelling backlog and extended wait times to become a U.S. citizen, compounded by a slowdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, threaten to leave hundreds of thousands of potential voters on the sidelines of the November election. The issue has drawn bipartisan concern in recent weeks since U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services closed its offices in March in response to the pandemic and canceled citizenship oath ceremonies, the public events that are the final step in the process, nationwide. Approximately 130,000 people who would have become citizens at these ceremonies are waiting for the events to restart, according to a Wall Street Journal calculation based on USCIS annual data. They are part of a larger backlog of permanent residents waiting to have their citizenship applications processed and unable to complete required in-person interviews. That group totaled about 650,000 people at the end of 2019. USCIS estimated in December, months before the pandemic, that their wait times would average about eight months, compared with less than six months at the end of 2015. Randy Capps, director of research for U.S. programs at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, said that means most of the permanent residents who applied for citizenship at the start of this year likely won’t complete the process in time to register to vote.

Editorials: As a Citizen Included on Texas’ Fake Voter Fraud List, I Call for the Resignation of Secretary of State David Whitley | Julieta Garibay/Texas Observer

I still remember the day of my citizenship exam. It was a cold Monday in November 2017, at the San Antonio office of U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS). I had relentlessly studied the 100 questions about the history and government of the United States that might be asked. I prayed I wouldn’t forget the answers. My heart was pounding and my stomach was in a complete knot. The USCIS agent asked: “Who is the governor of Texas?” “Abbott,” I responded. The officer sternly asked for the governor’s full name. My mind was running. A few months before, I had tweeted at Abbott when he signed SB 4 on Facebook and proudly boasted about criminalizing immigrants and making it easier for state and local police to work with the feds to detain and deport. But I could not remember his first name. I froze. The irony of my life: Would I fail my citizenship exam because I couldn’t remember the first name of the man who was hurting the immigrant community so much? The same man who is now calling into question my right to vote. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and tried to remember his Twitter handle. It came to me and I blurted, “Greg Abbott!” A few questions later, the USCIS officer said, “I am recommending you for the citizenship oath ceremony.”

Pennsylvania: Specious claims dog Pennsylvania’s noncitizen voter search | Associated Press

wo Pennsylvania state lawmakers are making a disputed claim in a long-running, and possibly futile, effort by elections officials to determine how many non-U.S. citizens had registered to vote over the years. On Tuesday, the lawmakers, Republican state Reps. Daryl Metcalfe and Garth Everett, issued a statement saying there had been confirmation that 11,198 foreign nationals had illegally registered to vote in Pennsylvania. But that is not what state election officials said. The Pennsylvania Department of State, which oversees elections, first reported in July that it had identified 11,198 registered voters with some indicator they may not have been a citizen. The department did not give a specific period of time for when those people registered, but said it searched every record in its database. All the names turned up in a search of the state driver license database; Pennsylvania allows residents to register to vote while getting their license, and election officials reported a flaw in that system in 2016. That’s not where it ends.

Texas: Voter citizenship review list has problems, state tells counties | The Texas Tribune

After flagging tens of thousands of registered voters for citizenship reviews, the Texas secretary of state’s office is now telling counties that some of those voters don’t belong on the lists it sent out. Officials in five large counties — Harris, Travis, Fort Bend, Collin and Williamson — told The Texas Tribune they had received calls Tuesday from the secretary of state’s office indicating that some of the voters whose citizenship status the state said counties should consider checking should not actually be on those lists. The secretary of state’s office incorrectly included some voters who had submitted their voting registration applications at Texas Department of Public Safety offices, according to county officials. Now, the secretary of state is instructing counties to remove them from the list of flagged voters. “We’re going to proceed very carefully,” said Douglas Ray, a special assistant county attorney in Harris County, where 29,822 voters were initially flagged by the state. A “substantial number” of them are now being marked as citizens, Ray said.

Texas: Officials Flag Tens Of Thousands Of Voters For Citizenship Checks | Texas Public Radio

The Texas secretary of state’s office announced Friday it would send local election officials a list of 95,000 registered voters who the state says counties should consider checking to see whether they are U.S. citizens and, therefore, legally eligible to vote. In an advisory released Friday afternoon, the office said it was flagging individuals who had provided the Texas Department of Public Safety with some form of documentation — including a work visa or a green card — that showed they were not a citizen when they were obtaining a driver’s license or an ID card. Among the individuals flagged, about 58,000 individuals cast a ballot in one or more elections from 1996 to 2018, the secretary of state’s office said.  It’s unclear exactly how many of those individuals are not actually U.S. citizens and whether that number will be available in the future. In its notice to counties, the secretary of state’s office said the names should be considered “WEAK” matches, using all capital letters for emphasis.

American Samoa: Trump’s birthright threat is real. Just look at American Samoa. | Slate

Unlike the recent suggestions of President Donald Trump, you cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order. Or even a bill in Congress. So says the Constitution. But don’t trust this president or the next Congress to necessarily agree with the plain meaning of these words. Or future federal officials. Or even the federal courts. Because unbeknownst to most Americans, for more than a century all three branches of government have perpetuated an unconstitutional denial of birthright citizenship. On Wednesday, the Trump administration will appear in federal court to defend the ability of the political branches to unilaterally restrict the Constitution’s guarantee of birthright citizenship. No, it will not be to defend an executive order or congressional statute denying citizenship to U.S.-born children of unauthorized immigrants. Rather, in Fitisemanu v. United States, the administration is defending the unconstitutional denial of birthright citizenship in U.S. territories before the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah. Many assume that the overwhelming bipartisan consensus condemning the constitutionality of Trump’s plan to restrict birthright citizenship by executive order or congressional statute makes such plans dead on arrival. Simply put, the original understanding of the Citizenship Clause requires recognizing all born on U.S. soil as citizens (the only narrow exceptions are for the children of foreign diplomats, enemy soldiers, or certain Indian tribes). An unbroken line of Supreme Court precedent agrees.

National: Lawsuit claims potential voters stuck in naturalization limbo | KABC

Advocates for immigrants and voting rights filed a federal lawsuit Monday demanding information from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. The groups believe that the Trump administration is engaged in deliberate foot-dragging to potentially slow new citizens from registering as Democrats. According to federal figures, 6.6 million people followed the process and became eligible to vote in the decade before 2012. Plaintiffs said the flow has since hit a roadblock. “They have at least doubled the amount of time it takes to become a citizen,” said Peter Schey, president of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law.

Kansas: Kobach Finally Tells Clerks To Comply With Court Order On Proof-of-Citizenship | TPM

After two days of confusion — with some but not all county election officials enforcing a Kansas voting restriction struck down by a federal judge Monday — the Kansas Secretary of State’s office instructed local officials Wednesday that proof-of-citizenship was not required to register to vote. The instructions marked the end — or at least a pause — in a years-long saga of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach fighting tooth and nail to keep his signature voter restriction alive, despite multiple court rulings against it. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson issued her order Monday, after a seven-day trial in March, declaring the proof-of-citizenship requirement a violation of both the National Voter Registration Act as well as the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.

Kansas: Judge rejects Kansas voter law, orders classes for Kobach | The Wichita Eagle

A federal judge has struck down a Kansas voter citizenship law that Secretary of State Kris Kobach had personally defended. Judge Julie Robinson also ordered Kobach, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, to take more hours of continuing legal education after he was found in contempt and was frequently chided during the trial over missteps. In an 118-page ruling Monday, Robinson ordered a halt to the state’s requirement that people provide proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. The decision holds the potential to make registration easier as the August and November elections approach. Robinson’s ruling amounted to a takedown of the law that Kobach had championed and lawmakers approved several years ago. She found that it “disproportionately impacts duly qualified registration applicants, while only nominally preventing noncitizen voter registration.”

Missouri: Proposed constitutional amendment would exclude non-citizens from redistricting | Columbia Missourian

A Senate committee passed a resolution Thursday that would exclude non-citizens from the state’s population count when it comes to redistricting. House Joint Resolution 100, sponsored by Rep. Dean Plocher, R-St. Louis, would make it so only U.S. citizens are counted in the population used in reapportionment. While Plocher received criticism from witnesses who said the proposal treats non-citizens as unequal, he said this measure would actually encourage people to become U.S. citizens faster.

California: Non-citizens voting in San Francisoc school board elections to get immigration warning | The San Francisco Examiner

San Francisco’s implementation of non-citizen voting in school board elections this November will come with a warning — federal immigration enforcement officials could obtain the voter registration information. Voters approved a ballot measure in 2016 to allow non-citizens to vote in school board elections beginning in November, but there are concerns over how the federal government could use the information as President Donald Trump has targeted California and San Francisco over sanctuary policies. San Francisco plans to issue a warning in 51 languages to non-citizens before they register, including on a Department of Elections affidavit they would need to sign to register and on the Department of Elections website.

Kansas: Kobach’s Proof-of-Citizenship Law Heads to Trial | ACLU

The federal trial over a Kansas law requiring people to show citizenship documents like a birth certificate or passport when registering to vote begins on March 6 in Kansas City. The American Civil Liberties Union will represent the League of Women Voters and several individuals whose voting rights were violated. Kris Kobach — the secretary of state of Kansas, chief architect of the law, and the defendant in the lawsuit — will represent himself. From 2013 to 2016, more than 35,000 Kansans were blocked from registering because of Kobach’s documentary proof-of-citizenship law — approximately 14 percent of new registrants. Many Kansans, including several of our clients, went to the polls on Election Day in 2014 with every reason to believe that they were registered, only to be told, “Sorry, you haven’t proven that you’re a U.S. citizen.”

National: US wants to add citizenship query to census, but group of states and DC protest | Associated Press

It’s been nearly 70 years since census-takers last asked all residents in the nation whether they were U.S. citizens. Now the Trump administration’s Justice Department wants to reinstate the citizenship question for the 2020 census and says doing so would improve voting-rights enforcement. But California, other Democratic-majority states and immigrant advocates see a more sinister purpose: to reduce census participation by intimidating undocumented immigrants and their families, and thereby lowering population counts that are the basis for determining the number of a state’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Kansas: Kobach Backs Citizenship Question, Targeting ‘One Person, One Vote’ | TPM

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has shed light on what may be driving the Trump administration’s push to ask about citizenship in the 2020 Census. In an op-ed written for Breitbart, Kobach endorses an approach to drawing voting districts in a way that would undermine the political power of immigrant-heavy communities. That approach, which culminated in a 2016 Supreme Court case, emerges from decades-old conservative opposition to the priniciple of “one person, one vote.” Kobach, a Republican who led President Trump’s now-defunct voter fraud commission, is known for pushing restrictive voting laws. In the op-ed, Kobach backs the idea of asking citizenship on the Census, something the Justice Department has also requested to be included on 2020 questionnaire.  Kobach suggests that doing so would encourage states to draw districts based on number of citizens or some similar metric. Currently, states draw districts based on total population.

National: ‘Proof of Citizenship’ Voting Laws May Surge Under Trump | Stateline

Emboldened both by President Donald Trump’s claim that millions of noncitizens voted in 2016 and by his creation of a panel to investigate the alleged fraud, lawmakers in several states want to require people registering to vote to provide proof of their citizenship – even though federal registration forms don’t require it. This year at least four states – Kansas, Maryland, Texas and Virginia – considered proof of citizenship measures, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. That means residents must provide documentation such as a passport or birth certificate when registering to vote.

U.S. Territories: National GOP leaders’ push for equal US citizenship is backed | Saipan Tribune

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and several members of the Legislature support the Republican Party’s push for “equal U.S. citizenship” to be extended to the three U.S. territories. Sponsored by U.S. Virgin Islands’ national committeeman Jevon Williams, the Republic National Committee last Friday adopted a resolution titled “Affirming Equal Citizenship for All Americans,” which is set to be submitted to U.S. President Donald J. Trump, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). The resolution says U.S. citizens residing in the “territories of Guam, NMI, and the Virgin Islands,” regardless of their sex, race, color, ethnicity, religion or creed, are “entitled to the full of enjoyment of their citizenship.” Americans in U.S. territories are U.S. citizens but cannot vote for the U.S. President, nor do they have full representation in Congress.

Australia: Malcolm Roberts’s election may have been invalid, government solicitor tells court | The Guardian

Malcolm Roberts could be the exception among sitting parliamentarians ensnared in the dual citizen saga in that his election in 2016 may have been invalid, the high court has heard. Roberts and former senator Scott Ludlam were different to the other three politicians so far referred to the high court – Barnaby Joyce, Larissa Waters and Matt Canavan – because they knew they had been citizens of other countries, the solicitor-general, Stephen Donaghue, told the court on Thursday. Tony Windsor, the former independent MP and rival to Joyce, has been allowed to join the citizenship case, which chief justice Susan Kiefel has set down hearings in Canberra in October.

Australia: Deputy Prime Minister Can Claim New Zealand Citizenship. Too Bad for Him. | The New York Times

The citizenship scandal that has roiled Australia’s Parliament threatened to claim its biggest casualty on Monday after the deputy prime minister was revealed by the New Zealand government to be a New Zealander, unbeknown to him. The Australian Constitution prohibits people with dual citizenship from holding seats in the national legislature. Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, 50, the leader of the right-leaning National Party, has served in the House of Representatives since 2013, after serving eight years in the Senate. He is also the minister of agriculture, the source of a well-publicized dispute over dogs brought into Australia in 2015 by the actor Johnny Depp.

Editorials: Kris Kobach and Kansas’ SAFE Act | Chelsie Bright/The Conversation

If you want to understand President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission, it helps to study what happened in Kansas. Six years before Trump was tweeting about stolen elections and unsubstantiated claims of millions of fraudulent votes, Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, was promoting the idea that widespread voter fraud threatens the integrity of our electoral system. It should come as no surprise that Trump chose Kobach to be the vice chairman of Vice President Mike Pence’s new Commission on Election Integrity. This appointment gives Kobach a national platform by which to pursue his agenda. Kansas’ voter ID law went into effect when I was a graduate student at the University of Kansas. The pervasive campaign promoting the new law piqued my interest. My co-author and I set out to assess the impact advertisements – specifically, the “Got ID?” campaign – had on voter turnout during the 2012 election.

Editorials: Kobach finally convicts an immigrant, but Kansas is paying a price | The Kansas City Star

Hand out the celebratory cigars. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach finally nabbed himself an immigrant. Pardon if we don’t order the band to play. Kobach announced Wednesday that he’d achieved an elusive goal — catching an immigrant who voted illegally in a Kansas election. Victor David Garcia Bebek of Wichita pleaded guilty to voter fraud. The Peruvian native’s voting record was uncovered after he registered to vote and it was discovered that he’d already voted three times in past elections. It’s a misdemeanor. A cautionary note for those tempted to crow that the case confirms the nonsense about undocumented immigrants committing widespread voter fraud: Bebek was discovered after he gained U.S. citizenship this year. He was legally present in the country when he cast previous votes.

Arizona: Maricopa County report says 40,000 voter registration forms found sitting in boxes | Associated Press

A report released Thursday from the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office said 40,000 voter registration forms received before the 2016 election were left sitting in boxes by the previous administration. Under Proposition 200, Arizona voter registration forms are required to have proof of citizenship attached. Without it, the registrant would not be considered eligible to vote in the state. The forms found in the boxes did not have that proof. “It was the policy of the previous administration that if a voter registration form did not comply with Prop. 200 — and it did not show proof of citizenship — it went into a box after a letter went out saying, ‘We need more information,’” Recorder Adrian Fontes, who was elected in November, said.

National: Judge Sends Voter Registration Case Back to Election Assistance Commission | Courthouse News Service

A federal judge says it’s up to the Election Assistance Commission to decide whether its executive director exceeded his authority when he allowed three states to change a national mail voter registration form to include a requirement of proof of U.S. citizenship. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, held the case must be remanded to the commission “for the limited purpose of providing an interpretation of its internal directive which is necessary for resolution of the threshold issue of whether [Executive Director Brian] Newby acted within his subdelegated authority.” The dispute over the form involves Newby’s 2016 decision to allow Alabama, Georgia and Kansas to change the voter registration form. The three states had previously requested the modifications to reflect their respective state laws. Newby said that he considered their approval to be “ministerial.”

Kansas: Judge hears arguments in voter registration case | The Kansas City Star

Opponents of a Kansas law requiring proof of citizenship before residents can register to vote asked a federal judge Friday to void the requirement. During oral arguments in Kansas City, Kan., attorneys representing voters denied registration asked for summary judgment in their companion cases, rather than going to trial. They argued that evidence already on the record proves that elements of the law were unconstitutional. The law is flawed, the lawyers said, because it doesn’t treat all eligible voters equally. It applies only to new voters, exempting all who registered before Jan. 1, 2013, from having to show proof of citizenship.

Georgia: License Bill Tweaked: ‘Noncitizen’ Becomes ‘Ineligible Voter’ | WABE

A Georgia House committee approved a measure Monday that would require the phrase “ineligible voter” printed on licenses issued to people who don’t have U.S. citizenship. The bill originally required the term “noncitizen,” but the bill’s sponsor state Rep. Alan Powell, R-Hartwell, said he reconsidered after the legislation faced backlash. “A driver’s license is the first form of an ID that people have, and obviously I just didn’t take into account for political correctness,” Powell said.

Kansas: Kobach voting law may disenfranchise voters, report says | The Kansas City Star

A civil rights advisory panel is urging a more thorough review of a Kansas voting law after finding evidence that the law may be disenfranchising voters of color. Kansas passed a law in 2011 that set up requirements that voters must show a photo ID at the polls and must provide proof of citizenship when they register. The policies were adopted at the urging of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as a way to prevent voter fraud. But a draft report from the Kansas Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights details concerns that the law “may have been written and implemented with improper, discriminatory intent.” The report was obtained by The Star. … The report urges the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to investigate whether the Kansas law, which it notes is the strictest in the nation, has violated the federal Voting Rights Act and other voting laws in its implementation.

Virginia: House passes bill to require proof of citizenship to vote in state, local elections | Richmond Times-Dispatch

Legislation to require proof of U.S. citizenship before registering to vote in Virginia elections passed the Republican-controlled House of Delegates Wednesday on a 64-33 vote along party lines. Echoing President Donald Trump’s claim, made without evidence, that millions of people in the country illegally have made it onto the voter rolls, the GOP-sponsored bill would apply to state and local elections because citizenship tests are not allowed in federal elections. Citizenship could be proved with a birth certificate, passport, naturalization document or other record accepted under federal law. Anyone registered to vote as of Jan. 1, 2018, would not have to prove their citizenship. “You may be aware that there have been cases of non-citizens either inadvertently or intentionally registering to vote in the commonwealth,” Del. Mark L. Cole, R-Spotsylvania, the bill’s sponsor, said on the floor this week. “This was designed to prevent that.”

National: Americans can vote from space, so why not from U.S. island territories? | CBC

An American orbiting in outer space can vote, but four million citizens and nationals living on U.S. soil have been left behind. While NASA astronaut Kate Rubins cast her ballot last month from the International Space Station, around 350 kilometres above planet Earth, those living in the five American island territories in Guam, the Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa and Puerto Rico will not be able to vote to elect their next president. Territorial residents have some of the highest military enlistment rates, yet many have no say when it comes to deciding their next commander-in-chief.

Kansas: Judge: Kobach has no authority for dual election system | Lawrence Journal World

State Kris Kobach from implementing a two-tiered voter registration system, ruling Friday that he “simply lacks the authority” to do so. Shawnee County Judge Larry Hendricks’ latest ruling has no impact on Tuesday’s election because the judge had previously temporarily halted the proposed dual system that would have thrown out votes cast by some Kansas voters in state and local elections. Two recent federal court rulings are already forcing Kansas to let these residents vote in federal elections. The American Civil Liberties Union sued Kobach, challenging an administrative rule that had set up a dual voter registration system. Under his proposed system, Kansas residents who registered at motor vehicle offices or used a national form without providing proof of citizenship would have been able to vote only in federal races.

Kansas: Federal appeals court: Right to vote constitutionally protected | Topeka Capital Journal

A federal appeals court laid out on Wednesday the legal reasoning behind its decision earlier this month that allowed thousands of Kansas residents to register to vote without providing documents proving their U.S. citizenship. The 85-page opinion from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals came a day after voter registration closed in Kansas for the November election. The appeals court had earlier this month upheld a preliminary injunction that forced Kansas to register people who filled out voter applications at motor vehicle offices. “There can be no dispute that the right to vote is a constitutionally protected fundamental right,” the appeals court wrote. The opinion released Wednesday essentially explained why the appeals court upheld U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson’s preliminary injunction requiring the state to register thousands of people for federal elections. The case was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of several prospective voters and the League of Women Voters.