In the ongoing saga of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach trying to make voting as difficult as possible, 36 organizations that advocate for expanded ballot access sent a letter to Election Assistance Commissioner Brian Newby today asking him to reverse his recent decision allowing Kansas, Georgia and Alabama to require proof of citizenship when citizens register to vote.
Such changes – which unlawfully permit a handful of states to require documentary proof of citizenship in addition to the sworn attestation under penalty of perjury – run afoul of present Election Assistance Commission (EAC) policy and procedure and are inconsistent with recent court cases. The EAC has previously addressed this very matter and declined to make the change on documentary proof that you recently authorized. EAC Vice-Chair Thomas Hicks, one of the Commissioners to whom you report, has deemed your recent communication a “unilateral” move amounting to a “material” change.i Any material change must be adopted by a quorum of the Commissioners after notice and public comment, as required by the Administrative Procedures Act, the Help America Vote Act, and the National Voter Registration Act. That has not occurred here.
The letter goes on to point out that the changes would affect “tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of voters who seek to register to vote in these three states.” In Kansas alone, a state-level proof of citizenship requirement has put the registration status of over 30,000 prospective voters in question.
It’s unclear as to whether this letter will draw a response from Newby — I doubt it’s enough to prompt him to reverse his policy. But if he keeps this up, these changes could very well wind up in court, as voters in three states will soon be subjected to an almost-certainly illegal hurdle when they try and register to vote.
Here is the letter, via Election Law Blog: