Civil rights groups are set to ask a federal appeals court panel in Washington on Thursday to block Kansas, Alabama and Georgia from enforcing proof-of-citizenship requirements for people using a federal form to register to vote. The League of Women Voters and its state chapters, the NAACP in Georgia and other groups said in court briefs that the U.S. Justice Department agrees with their February lawsuit. In them, they alleged Brian D. Newby, executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, improperly and unilaterally granted requests by the three states to require proof of citizenship for new voters on the federal registration form, reflecting state registration requirements. U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon of Washington in June rejected a request to block the three states from enforcing the change, a decision the civil rights groups appealed.
… The case set to be heard Thursday follows a Leon’s June 29 ruling in which he concluded plaintiffs had failed to show they would be “irreparably harmed” by the proof-of-citizenship requirement. Kansas implemented the requirement in 2013 for its state voter registration form and a simpler federal version. Georgia and Alabama passed similar requirements in 2009 and 2011, but are not enforcing the rules.
Leon said the changes, “although an inconvenience,” do not preclude the groups that want to block the rules from encouraging people to vote.
Leon said that in Kansas, any harm is “not actually irreparable,” because the state said it will retroactively register individuals who sought to vote in federal elections but were barred because they did not document their citizenship when they first applied.