Arizona and Kansas officials have filed a federal lawsuit in an attempt to force a federal elections agency to change its voter registration forms to compel proof of citizenship.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in federal court in Topeka and seeks to force the Elections Assistance Commission to modify federal voter registration forms to require documents proving citizenship. Currently the forms only require an applicant to make an oath affirming citizenship. [Related: Read letters to the court and the lawsuit filing (PDF)]
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne and Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett have been active in seeking to tighten voter registration laws, including passage of laws that require applicants to show proof of citizenship when registering to vote.
"The argument is that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to prevent Arizona from obtaining the information it needs to enforce its photo qualifications," Horne said in a statement. "The Supreme Court appeared to be in agreement by saying that action by the federal government 'would raise serious constitutional doubts.' After pursuing these procedures, we will win this case and establish Arizona's right to be sure that only citizens vote in Arizona, and not illegal aliens."
This comes after the Elections Assistance Commission refused to approve a state-specific requirement, consistent with proposition 200 passed by Arizona voters, allowing Arizona to ask people registering for evidence that they're citizens.
State Sen. Steve Gallardo, a longtime advocate for voters, issued the following statement:
"Clearly, these politicians and their supporters fear an increase in the number of eligible citizens voting. Yesterday's lawsuit and new laws like HB2305 demonstrate their desire to make it harder to vote for all eligible Arizonans."
Dr. Barbara Klein, Arizona president of The League of Women Voters, said:
"This effort by the state of Arizona is a perfect example of why Congress must act swiftly to update and modernize the Voting Rights Act. In the meantime, the state government should not be allowed to block eligible citizens from registering to vote."
John Lewis, executive director for the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, said:
"The U.S. Supreme Court victory clearly reaffirms that ensuring all citizens the greatest access to exercise their right to vote is a basic principle in a democracy."
The changes sought in the lawsuit would only apply to Kansas and Arizona in their efforts to establish voter qualifications.
Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved.CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation) contributed to this report.
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