At least for now, Kansas and Arizona residents can keep registering to vote with a federal form and without having to show proof of citizenship, thanks to a federal appeals court ruling handed down Thursday.
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily stayed a ruling from a U.S. District Judge that orders the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to modify its federal voter registration form to add special instructions for Arizona and Kansas residents about those states’ proof-of-citizenship requirements.
Circuit judges granted the emergency stay sought Thursday by the commission and voting rights groups, a day after the district judge rejected a similar request to suspend his ruling during the appeal. The judge had ordered the commission on Wednesday to carry out “without further delay” his March 19 directive.
This stay remains in place until the appeals court takes further action. The circuit judges gave Kansas and Arizona until Tuesday to respond to the commission’s request to suspend the ruling during the appeal.
Proponents of proof-of-citizenship requirements argue the change is needed to prevent voter fraud, and keep unqualified voters from casting ballots. It had been strongly endorsed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
Opponents contend that the added documentation are unreasonable and the burdens result in an overall decrease in registration of eligible citizens, undermining the purpose of the National Voter Registration Act. This would particularly impact immigrant and poor voters.
Most voters in Arizona and Kansas register with state forms, but their officials said the availability of the federal form created a loophole in enforcement of proof-of-citizenship requirements.
It is hoped that the temporary stay becomes a permanent one. Despite all the rhetoric about maintaining the integrity of the voting process and sanctity of our democracy, there have been few, if any, instances of election shenanigans in Kansas.
The idea is at best a miss-guided attempt to tilt at windmills or at the worst, a blatant attempt to impose state-sanctioned discrimination.
Either way, it is an idea best left to the dust bin of history.