A U.S. District Court judge ruled recently that Arizona and Kansas can make people prove their citizenship when they vote, and the federal Election Assistance Commission doesn’t have the authority to block them.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris W. Kobach was encouraged by the ruling, seeing it as a win for States’ rights. “We’ve seen so many defeats recently in areas where the federal government has been encroaching on states’ authorities, and this time the good guys won.”
Judge Eric F. Melgren ruled that the EAC must accede to states’ requests for people to provide proof of citizenship when they register to vote and that the Constitution gives states the power to determine voter qualifications. “On one hand, the ITCA (Inter Tribal Council of Arizona) decision acknowledges the broad scope of Congress ‘power under the Elections Clause, which includes the authority of the NVRA to preempt state law regarding voter registration,” the judge wrote. “But the ITCA opinion also emphasizes the states’ exclusive constitutional authority to set voter qualifications, which Congress may not preempt and appears to tie that authority with the power of the states to enforce their qualifications… The EAC’s nondiscretionary duty is to perform the ministerial function of updating the instructions to reflect each state’s laws… The court orders the EAC to add the language requested by Arizona and Kansas to the state-specific instructions of the federal mail voter registration form immediately.”
The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is an independent agency which was created after the 2000 election mess in Florida. The Commission provides resource information regarding election administration. Its duties are to administer payments and guidance to states to meet HAVA requirements, adopting voluntary voting system guidelines, certifying voting equipment and developing and maintaining a national mail voter registration form among other roles.
Kansas and Arizona enacted requirements that voters prove their citizenship when they register and state registration forms were changed to add the requirement, but the federal government refused to add the requirement to the National Voter Registration Act, or motor-voter law, which was passed by the federal government in 1993. Arizona and Kansas requested that the EAC change the forms distributed in their states, but the commission refused.
A number of states have pushed for stricter enforcement and the right to enforce federal immigration laws, yet the administration through the DOJ has sued a number of states over illegal immigration enforcement, and Obama has threatened to go around congress if an amnesty bill isn’t passed. Democrats view voter ID and citizenship proof as suppression and disenfranchising voters, but Conservatives see both as a way to fight against rampant voter fraud.
Considering my own county in Florida has dealt with the issue of illegal immigrants and non-citizens voting in local, state and federal elections, this ruling proves to be a win if more states will require proof of citizenship.