D.C. Circuit Overturns Voter Citizenship Check

     (CN) — A divided D.C. Circuit overturned the federal government’s approval of Kansas, Alabama and Georgia’s requests to add state-specific, proof-of-citizenship requirements to the National Mail Voter Registration Form.
     The appeals court issued a two-page order Friday supported by two of the three panel judges, after finding that an injunction against the requirement is in the public interest. The order will be followed by a full opinion to be issued at a later date.
     The court ordered the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to remove the disputed state-specific instructions and restore the status quo pending further litigation.
     Changes to the instructions accompanying the National Mail Voter Registration Form were made by U.S. Election Assistance Commission Executive Director Brian Newby after three states – Kansas, Georgia and Alabama – had requested the modifications to reflect their respective state laws.
     The proof-of-citizenship requirement is already being enforced for state elections in Kansas.
     The voter-registration form, which is used to register voters for federal elections by mail, lists U.S. citizenship as a “universal eligibility requirement” and also requires registrants to sign the form “under penalty of perjury.”
     Additionally, the form includes state-specific instructions, which is where the disputed changes were made.
     The three states in question each require some form of proof-of-citizenship from prospective voters. In the case of Kansas, voter applicants can use one of 13 types of “documentary evidence” to prove their citizenship or use an alternative process involving “the use of witnesses.”
     The League of Women Voters — joined by Project Vote, the NAACP of Georgia, and two Kansas residents — challenged the changes, arguing that Newby’s actions were done “without the approval of three commissioners” and in violation of EAC policy.
     U.S. District Judge Richard Leon denied plaintiffs an injunction in June, calling the rule change an “inconvenience” that “in no way precludes the organizational plaintiffs and their members from conducting their core activities of encouraging civic participation in both state and federal elections and educating the public about the requirements for registering to vote in each.”
     On Friday, D.C. Circuit Judges Judith Rogers and Stephen Williams voted to grant the injunction, while Judge Raymond Randolph dissented.

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