Appeals court considers Kansas, Arizona voter ID rules

WICHITA, Kansas — The continuing fight over voter registration and proof of citizenship in Kansas and Arizona was heard in a federal appeals court in Denver, Colorado.

The appeals court must rule on whether the two states can force federal elections officials, namely the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, to assist the states in imposing their proof-of-citizenship requirements on federal voter registration forms.

On Monday, a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in the case. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was present at the appeals hearing.

The panel, however, failed to make a final decision on the matter. It instead, passed the buck off to Congress.

The panel, instead, suggested that the federal elections commission did not have the power or authority to reject the states’ request because staff members, not commissioners appointed by Congress, made the decision.

Congress, however, has reportedly not appointed anyone to the Election Assistance Commission in three years.

“What the Obama administration lawyers are saying, and they said to the court today is essentially, no, the federal government can tell us what to do and the Constitutional protections for states’ rights in this regard, really don’t mean that much, and that Congress can override those protections,” said Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Kobach told KSN that the issue is about states’ rights.

“We are standing on the United States Constitution which says that the states get to control who is qualified to vote and how we police those qualifications for voting,” said Kobach. “We police those qualifications by requiring proof of citizenship.”

The League of Women Voters of Kansas, which opposes the voter citizenship law, released this statement:

“Kansans will be left out of the democratic process if this new requirement is upheld. When we make the voter registration process complex, it confuses people and means that fewer people will register and plan to vote.”

- Dolores Furtado,
President, Kansas Chapter

The Kansas Secretary of State says he is hopeful he’ll see a victory in the court of appeals, but also says that the case may go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The court of appeals reportedly indicated Monday that they hope to have a decision prior to November 4.

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