Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Federal appeals court blocks proof-of-citizenship voter registration requirement in Ala., Ga., Kan.

A federal appeals court on Friday "blocked Kansas, Georgia and Alabama from requiring residents to prove they are U.S. citizens when registering to vote using a national form," Sam Hananel reports for The Associated Press. Voting rights groups, who claimed a U.S. election official illegally changed proof-of-citizenship requirements on federal registration forms in the three states, "argued that the requirements could lead to the 'mass disenfranchisement' of thousands of potential voters—many of them poor, African-American and living in rural areas."

The changes, which had only been actively enforced in Kansas, require people seeking to register to vote "to show birth certificates, naturalization papers or other documents as proof of citizenship," Hananel writes. Voters in other states are only required to swear they are U.S. citizens, not show proof of citizenship.

Brian Newby, executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, changed the federal form shortly after being hired in November, Hananel writes. "EAC was created in 2002 to help avoid a repeat of the disputed 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore following ballot confusion in Florida. It is supposed to have four commissioners, two Democrats and two Republicans, but one of the Democratic seats is currently vacant. The remaining commissioners never acted to approve or disapprove Newby’s action."

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