In federal appeal of proof-of-citizenship rules for voters, Kansas argues for states’ right to regulate elections

“A mere oath of citizenship is not enough.”

 

In the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Monday, “a constitutional showdown over states’ rights to regulate their own elections as well as criticism of the way the federal Election Assistance Commission operates.”

 

Both Kansas and Arizona have passed state requirements that voters must prove citizenship through a passport or birth certificate before they can register to vote. Lawmakers in those states say the measure is to prevent voter fraud. That rule is stricter than federal ones, which require a voter to merely affirm citizenship in writing.

 

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (incorrectly identified by the Los Angeles Times as Attorney General), who argued on behalf of both states, said the EAC is “using the federal form as a lever to displace the state’s power.”

 

The three-judge appellate panel seemed most focused Monday on whether Alice Miller, the acting executive director of the EAC, had the authority to allow her staff to refuse the requests by Kansas and Arizona to make the federal forms adhere to the two states’ tougher standards.

 

“Where in the record do we find sub-delegation,” asked Judge Carlos Lucero. He wondered hypothetically whether a court clerk would be allowed to render judicial decisions if there were no judges on the bench.

 

Kobach requested a fast-tracked decision, but any ruling is likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.