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Sunday, May 26, 2024 | Back issues
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Court Asked to Reassess Voter Registration Rules

PHOENIX (CN) - After the 10th Circuit struck down requirements by Kansas and Arizona for proof of citizenship to register to vote, the states petitioned for a rehearing.

It has been over a month since a three-judge panel of the federal appeals court found that the states lacked authority to compel a requirement for proof of citizenship on the federal voter registration form, which only requires a sworn statement.

The Republican-led states sued the U.S. Election Assistance Commission last year after the agency denied their requests to add citizenship proof to the federal form.

In ruling against the states, the Denver-based 10th Circuit reversed the March decision of U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren in Wichita.

The states petitioned for a panel rehearing Monday, identifying three issues that they say went unaddressed in the court's ruling: whether the agency failed to follow its own regulations; whether the states have the right to establish their own qualifications for voter registration; and whether the agency unlawfully intruded on the states' rights.

"The panel overlooked the point of law the states actually presented - that the states, not the federal government, exclusively establish and enforce the qualifications of electors," the petition states.

Judge Melgren got it right, the states say, in finding that Congress did not pre-empt state laws requiring proof of citizenship through the National Voter Registration Act, which is silent on the issue.

The panel's opinion "creates a scenario where one must meet certain qualifications to be an 'elector' for the most numerous Branch of each State's legislature (provide documentary proof-of-citizenship) and one can meet different qualifications to be an 'elector' for the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate (not provide documentary proof-of-citizenship," according to the petition (parentheses in original).

If the panel refuses to rehear this issue, the states say "this issue could create constitutional questions regarding whether federal officials were properly elected by qualified 'electors' after subsequent litigation."

Kris Korbach with the Kansas Secretary of State's Office signed the petition.

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