WICHITA, Kan. — A federal appeals court has delivered a new setback to
officials in Arizona and Kansas, ruling that residents in those states can
continue registering to vote using a federal form without having to show proof
The ruling is the latest blow to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who
says the federal form — which requires only that people attest under penalty of
perjury that they are citizens — creates a “massive loophole” in the
enforcement of laws in the two states. Kansas and Arizona require proof of
citizenship in order to keep noncitizens off the voter rolls.
Earlier this month, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver issued a
stay of a lower court ruling ordering the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to
immediately modify its federal voter registration form to add special
instructions for Arizona and Kansas residents about those states’
Late Monday, the appeals court extended its block on the lower court order and
granted an expedited hearing on the merits of the case sought by the federal
commission and voting rights groups.
Kobach has said if the courts do not allow the federal form to be revised, he
would implement a system in Kansas allowing people who register using the
federal form to vote only in federal races such as for president and members of
The commission has argued that allowing special instructions on the federal
form for Arizona and Kansas would discourage voters from registering for federal
elections and would hurt voter registration drives.
Federal election officials and their supporters contend that the federal form
provides an important backstop allowing participation of all eligible voters in
federal elections, regardless of “onerous” requirements that states may place
to vote in their own elections.