FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 3, 2016
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT
Micah Kubic - Executive Director, ACLU of Kansas
Attempts by US Election Assistance Commission executive director to reverse policy on federal voter registration forms are brazen and shocking
OVERLAND PARK, Kans. (February 3, 2016) - On Monday, Brian Newby, the executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) suddenly, unilaterally, and illegally decided to issue letters adding “proof of citizenship” requirements to federal voter registration forms used in Kansas, Alabama, and Georgia. The EAC is the federal agency charged with developing and maintaining a standardized, uniform federal voter registration form as required by the National Voter Registration Act. Proof of citizenship requirements are significant obstacles to voter registration, as they require eligible citizens to provide a birth certificate, passport, or other difficult-to-obtain documents prior to being registered to vote.
Until Monday, the EAC’s policy was that the federal voter registration form must be consistent across all U.S. states and territories and that state-specific forms were neither legal nor in alignment with the goal of easing access to the ballot by eligible citizens. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach requested that the agency include proof of citizenship requirements on the federal form, but the EAC rejected that request. Secretary Kobach sued the EAC. In each of the legal challenges brought against the EAC, the commission’s policy against the proof of citizenship requirement was upheld, including as recently as the summer of 2015.
"Brian Newby's unilateral change to the federal form exceeds his authority, is arbitrary, may violate federal administrative law, and comes just a few weeks after a state court struck down Kansas’s two-tiered voter registration system. In that ruling, the court held that Secretary of State Kris Kobach's office overstepped its legal authority by creating a system that prevents federal form registrants from voting in state and local elections," said Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Kansas.
"The ACLU successfully challenged that dual system, arguing that the people of Kansas have a right to vote in state and local elections no matter what form they used to register. Documentary proof of citizenship requirements make it harder for eligible Kansas citizens to exercise their right to vote, and the state-specific requirements that Mr. Newby is illegitimately encouraging defeat the purpose of a standardized federal form. We’re exploring possible next steps," said Kubic.
The ACLU of Kansas is the statewide affiliate of the national American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU of Kansas is dedicated to preserving and advancing the civil rights and legal freedoms guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
For more information, please contact Micah Kubic at 913-490-4101 or visit our website at www.aclukansas.org.
"US official requires citizenship proof in 3 states", Associated Press, 02/04/2016
"Audit Slams Management at Former Job of US Election Official", ABC News, 03/17/2016