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Judicial Watch • U.S. Election Comm. Quietly Lets States Verify U.S. Citizenship

U.S. Election Comm. Quietly Lets States Verify U.S. Citizenship

U.S. Election Comm. Quietly Lets States Verify U.S. Citizenship

FEBRUARY 12, 2016

Recognizing that voter identification is not sufficient, the government agency created by Congress to oversee the administration of elections has quietly reversed itself to allow states to verify U.S. citizenship before permitting voters to register.

It’s a crucial issue that’s left the voter ID argument in the dust considering it’s been proven that identification measures aren’t enough to keep illegal immigrants from voting in U.S. elections. Regardless, liberals and Democrats in Congress assert that requiring voters to provide a government-issued ID to vote discriminates against minorities because they are either too poor or too ignorant to get one. The powerful chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, calls voter ID laws a “full-scale assault” on minority voters designed to “rig” elections.

Nevertheless, election officials in some states have confirmed that requiring ID is not enough to prevent fraud. American citizenship, mandatory to vote in U.S. elections at every level, must also be verified. But first states must get approval from the feds, specifically the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). The bipartisan commission is tasked with assuring that elections are administered in accordance with federal laws. This includes accrediting voting system test labs, certifying voting equipment and keeping a national mail voter registration form.

For years the EAC has rejected requests from several states to allow the citizenship verification of its registered voters. Judicial Watch has been involved in several of the cases and years ago filed documents with the EAC in support of efforts by Arizona, Kansas and Georgia to require voter registration applicants to provide proof of citizenship. In its filing with the EAC Judicial Watch writes that under Section 8 of the National Voter Registration ACT (NVRA), states are under a federal obligation to assure that non-citizens neither register nor vote. A failure to allow states to require such information would undermine Americans’ confidence that their elections are being conducted fairly and honestly, and would thwart states’ ability to comply with the election integrity obligations imposed by federal law.

Regardless, the EAC has repeatedly rejected the appeal to let states require proof of citizenship from voters. In 2006 it slammed Arizona’s request to add a citizenship documentation requirement to the state-specific instructions. Several years later the commission responded to the same petition from Arizona, Kansas and Georgia in one lengthy rejection document that cites claims by leftist groups that providing proof of citizenship would adversely impact vulnerable and marginalized communities, specifically low-income and people of color. “The requested proof-of-citizenship instructions are inconsistent with the EAC’s prior determinations,” the 2014 ruling states. “In addition, the EAC, both by the staff and duly-constituted quorum of commissioners, has already denied the very same substantive request that is at issue here,” it further states.

In the last few weeks, however, the EAC has quietly reversed itself by approving the petition of three states—Kansas, Georgia and Alabama—to add a citizenship requirement to their voter registration forms. The letters, signed by the EAC’s new executive director, Brian D. Newby, were issued on January 29, 2016. They can be viewed here. The about-face opens the door for other states seeking to preserve the integrity of elections by requiring evidence of voter eligibility before ballots are cast.


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