Arizona and Kansas are suing the U.S. federal government for approval of election laws which would require individuals to prove their citizenship when registering to vote, officials said.
In the lawsuit, filed Aug. 21, Arizona’s Attorney General Tom Horne and Secretary of State Ken Bennett joined the state of Kansas in suing the Elections Assistance Commission, after the agency rejected an Arizona law, Proposition 200, which its proponents say would help prevent illegal aliens from voting.
Arizona’s appeal to the commission came after the U.S. Supreme Court in June ruled in Arizona vs. InterTribal Council of Arizona that Proposition 200 was preempted by federal election law.
“The case epitomizes both the radicalism of the Obama Justice Department and the extremes of the doctrine of federal preemption, under which judges find supposed conflicts between federal and state law, thereby invalidating the latter, often by stretching the intent of federal lawmakers,” Kris Kobach, Kansas’ secretary of state, said in February.
In their June decision, the Supreme Court said the state could appeal to the Elections Assistance Commission to frame a state-specific requirement and modify the voter registration forms as Arizona and Kansas had requested. The states seek forms which would require evidence of citizenship rather than only the oath or affirmation of the applicant.
The commission subsequently rejected their appeal, and both Arizona and Kansas are suing on the grounds that the rejection is a violation of Arizona’s constitutional duties to ensure the integrity of the voting process.
“We are pursuing the path set out for us by the U.S. Supreme Court ... in which the court required us to pursue certain avenues prior to their considering our constitutional argument,” Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said in a statement. “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. The Supreme Court appeared to be in agreement by saying that 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.”
The lawsuit effectively seeks a court order compelling the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) to modify the voter registration forms as requested. The EAC has “a nondiscretionary duty to make the proposed modifications,” the complaint alleges, and cannot deprive sovereign states of “the constitutional right, power, and privilege to establish voting qualifications, including voter registration requirements.”