A U.S. district judge has ruled that the federal government must help Kansas and Arizona enforce their voter registration requirements. Both states require people registering to vote for the first time to prove their citizenship with a document such as a birth certificate.
Kansas and Arizona asked the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to add those state-specific instructions to the federal voter registration form. Judge Eric Melgren in Wichita says the commission has no authority to deny the request.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says this decision affirms the rights of states to set and enforce their own voting rules.
"Kansas and Arizona have today won a huge victory in this lawsuit," said Kobach. "It is a victory not only for our two states, but it is a victory for all 50 states."
The Election Assistance Commission had refused to add the Kansas and Arizona requirements to the federal form. The federal registration form currently requires only that prospective voters sign a statement saying that they are citizens.
Kobach says he expects the federal government to now change the form, but that action could be put on hold if the federal government appeals the decision.