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Judicial Watch Files Comments with Key Federal Agency in Support of Arizona, Kansas, Georgia Efforts to Require Voters Provide Proof of Citizenship


Election Assistance Commission failure to amend Federal Form to provide proof of citizenship “would undermine Americans’ confidence that their elections are being conducted fairly ….”


(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch today announced that it has filed comments with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) in support of efforts by Arizona, Kansas, and Georgia to amend the National Voter Registration Voter Registration Mail Application (a federal form) to require voter registration applicants to provide proof of citizenship. Arizona and Kansas have sued the EAC to force such action; Georgia has issued a formal letter of request.


Filing in support of the state actions, Judicial Watch argued that “Under Section 8 of the NVRA [National Voter Registration Act], states are under a federal obligation to assure that non-citizens neither register nor vote.” It added, “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.”


Stating that there are “good reasons to believe that the public needs to be reassured on this point,” Judicial Watch commented:


In poll after poll, for some time now, large segments of the American populace have expressed their dismay with various aspects of our electoral system. A Rasmussen poll from August of 2013 reported that only 39% of Americans believe elections are fair. In 2012, a Monmouth University poll reported that more than two-thirds of registered voters thought voter fraud was a problem. In 2008, when a Gallup poll asked respondents around the world whether they had “confidence in the honesty of elections,” 53% of Americans said that they did not.


Arguing that “routine failure of certain states to comply with their voter list accuracy obligations … is quickly becoming a national, nonpartisan issue,” Judicial Watch commented:


For example, the Pew Research Center on the States released an astonishing report in 2012 noting that ‘[a]pproximately 2.75 million people have active registrations in more than one state.’ That same report observed that “24 million – one of every eight – active voter registrations in the United States are no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate,” and that “[m]ore than 1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as active voters.” Non-citizen voter registration fraud is a contributor to this problem.


Judicial Watch also cited the failure of the EAC to have a quorum in order to strengthen the arguments of Arizona, Kansas, and Georgia that they be granted a federal form amendment. According to the complaint filed by Arizona and Kansas, the EAC has not had a quorum since December 2010; has had no commissioners since December 2011; no executive director since then; and no general counsel since May 2012.

Judicial Watch commented:


Judicial Watch notes that only a quorum of EAC Commissioners can refuse the states’ requests. An Acting Director lacks authority to take official regulatory action for the Commission. See 42 U.S.C. § 15328 (action by the EAC can be authorized “only with the approval of at least three of its members.”). Because there is no quorum of Commissioners, the EAC cannot reject the states’ request.


On August 21, 2013, the states of Kansas and Arizona jointly filed a complaint against the EAC asking the federal court in Topeka, Kansas, to force the agency to require proof of citizenship in the state-specific instructions on the National Mail Voter Registration Form. On August 1, the state of Georgia sent a letter to the EAC asking the same. The EAC had rebuffed previous requests for modifications, blaming a lack of quorum on the commission.


In filing their lawsuit, Kansas and Arizona cited the June 2013, Supreme Court decision in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona Inc. While the Court ruled that the NVRA “precludes Arizona from requiring a federal form applicant to submit information beyond that required by the form itself,” it also stipulated that states are free to petition the EAC to add the proof of citizenship requirement and, if the EAC does not act or rejects the request, take it to court.


“For the EAC to use its own inability to convene a quorum as an excuse to contravene the right of the states of Arizona, Kansas, and Georgia to protect the integrity of the ballot box is a travesty,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Gladstone’s axiom that ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’ has never been more obvious than in this situation. And the EAC ought to stop its stonewalling and let justice proceed.”


The EAC comments are not the first time Judicial Watch has intervened on behalf of Arizona in the state’s efforts to oppose certain aspects of illegal immigration. In December 2012, Judicial Watch filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Arizona’s proof of citizenship voter registration law. In February 2012 Judicial Watch filed two separate amici curiae briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of SB 1070, also known as the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act.  Judicial Watch filed an amicus curiae brief  on behalf of former Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, author of SB 1070, and a separate briefon behalf of State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI).  In both briefs, Judicial Watch argued that SB 1070 utilized the state of Arizona’s well-established police powers and was therefore not preempted by federal law.



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