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Election Assistance Commission approves proof of citizenship requirement for voter registration

Information courtesy of NPR and AmericaBlog.com

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) has approved requests from Alabama, Georgia, and Kansas to require proof of citizenship to register to vote. EAC has amended the state-specific instructions for the federal voter registration form to include the proof of citizenship requirement.

The federal form only requires would-be voters to swear to their citizenship, not provide documentation to prove it. However, the state-specific instructions for Kansas now require “a document… demonstrating United States citizenship” such as a driver’s license, birth certificate, or U.S. passport.

EAC Commissioner Tom Hicks has issued a statement disagreeing with the decision.  According to Commissioner Hicks, EAC Executive Director Brian Newby “unilaterally moved to alter the federal voter registration form to reflect those states’ proof of citizenship requirements.” He also expressed doubt that Newby had the authority to make the decision, stating, “I believe that this decision constitutes a change of policy, which can only be made following official adoption by at least three Commissioners.”

If the change follows the trend set by other state voter identification laws, there will likely be a lengthy court battle over Newby’s decision. Depending on how the battle goes, other states may ask EAC for their own state-specific voter registration requirements. In the meantime, voters in Alabama, Georgia, and Kansas who registered with the federal form but did not show proof of citizenship may find their votes not counted.

Doug Schmidt
Act Team Coordinator
The Fifth Freedom Network