US Court of Appeals Issues Stay in Proof-of-Citizenship Case

By Michael Slater May 20, 2014

Good news today in the fight over proof-of-citizenship requirements. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has issued a full stay in Kobach et al v. United States. This means that, in this important election year, citizens in those states can continue to use the safeguard of the federal registration form while the appeal is underway.

As you know, the NVRA created the federal form 20 years ago to guarantee that millions of Americans had a simple, streamlined form to register to vote. Last year, Kansas and Arizona sued the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to add their states’ documentary proof-of-citizenship requirements to this form, a move that could disenfranchise thousands of eligible citizens.

In March, a U.S. District Judge in Kansas ruled that the EAC had to fulfill the request from Kansas and Arizona. The EAC and a number of voting rights groups—including Project Vote, the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, and others—filed to appeal, but the district judge refused to stay his order pending the outcome.

Now, the Denver-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has overruled him on the stay, meaning the form will remain unchanged until the Court can rule on the appeal. This is a good development in the case, and good news in the meantime for citizens in Arizona and Kansas who will be able to continue registering to vote using the federal form.

Kansas and Arizona are trying to erect the exact kinds of barriers to voting the NVRA was designed to prevent. Project Vote is proud to join our colleagues in this important case, and we will continue our fight to ensure that every eligible citizen can register, vote, and have their ballots counted.