After a federal appeals court temporarily blocked three states from requiring residents to provide proof of U.S. citizenship in order to register to vote using a federal form, the case will go back before a lower court judge for a definitive ruling Monday afternoon.
The executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission in January approved requests by Kansas, Alabama and Georgia to require those registering to vote to provide proof of citizenship, such as documentation of a birth certificate or a passport, when they registered using federal mail-in voter forms.
The League of Women Voters filed suit over the requirements, arguing that they would disenfranchise voters and that in approving the requests that Executive Director Brian Newby had overstepped his authority.
A federal judge in July had refused to grant a preliminary injunction in the case that would have blocked the states from enforcement the requirements while the case is argued.
But in a 2-1 decision issued Friday, a day after oral arguments were held in the case, a three-judge panel from the D.C. Circuit Court overturned the lower court’s decision and sent the case back before District Judge Richard Leon.
Judge Leon will hold a hearing Monday afternoon to determine whether to permanently block the requirements. The appeals court found that the plaintiffs in the case had demonstrated “irreparable harm” and “a likelihood of success on the merits.”
Residents registering to vote in other states are only required to swear that that they are citizens, not show documentation.
“With just weeks to go before a critical presidential election, we are grateful to the court of appeals for stopping this thinly veiled discrimination in its tracks,” said Chris Carson, president of the League of Women Voters.
Kansas is the only of the three states that has been enforcing the citizenship requirement when processing voter registrations.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has previously argued that the citizenship requirement change was needed to prevent voter fraud. His office did not respond to requests for comment Monday.
In a statement issued last month, Mr. Kobach noted that Kansas had set an all-time record for registered voters — topping 1,750,000 registered voters — and cited the figure as proof that the requirement was not diminishing participation in the election process.