Wednesday October 7th, 2015 3:30PM

Feds reject voter registration changes for GA, KS, AZ

By The Associated Press
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- The U.S. Election Assistance Commission on Friday rejected requests by Kansas, Arizona and Georgia to modify federal registration forms to allow their states to fully implement proof-of-citizen voting laws for their residents.

The decision came just hours before a court-imposed deadline in a lawsuit filed by Kansas and Arizona in U.S. District Court in Kansas. Georgia is not part of that litigation but has similar requirements.

The agency found that granting the states' requests would "likely hinder eligible citizens from registering to vote in federal elections," undermining the core purpose of the National Voter Registration Act.

Most immediately, the issue will likely return to the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren, who has held onto litigation in anticipation of further proceedings.

Both states enacted laws requiring new voters to provide a birth certificate, passport or other proof of U.S. citizenship when registering to vote, and most voters use state forms that enforce the requirement. But some voters use the federal form, which requires only that someone sign a statement under oath that he or she is a U.S. citizen, and Kansas and Arizona want to force a change to close what their officials see as a loophole in enforcement of their proof-of-citizenship requirements.

The U.S. Justice Department has argued that changing the requirements on the federal form for residents of Kansas and Arizona would in essence affect nationwide policy because it might encourage every state to seek increased proof of citizenship in order to register for federal elections.

Secretary of State Kris Kobach has pushed his state's proof-of-citizenship law to keep non-citizens from voting particularly those in the U.S. illegally. But critics say voter fraud is extremely rare and contend such laws suppress the vote and threaten to keep thousands of citizens from casting ballots. The registrations of 20,127 Kansans remained on hold Friday because they've not yet provided proof of their citizenship to election officials.

The court is expected to set an evidentiary hearing to take up the states' request that the judge force the commission to modify their form.

Melgren said last month he has serious reservations about the federal government's power to rule on the voter registration issue. Regardless of how the judge ultimately rules in the case, the issue is likely to be appealed.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that Arizona could not refuse to accept the national voter registration form, even though people who use it aren't required to provide citizenship documents.

Kobach has said that if he cannot get either the commission or Melgren to modify the federal registration form with state-specific requirements, he would institute a dual registration that limits Kansans who register with the federal form to voting only in presidential, U.S. Senate and congressional races.

A separate American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit contends Kobach has no authority to create a dual registration system in Kansas.

Several Democratic lawmakers in Kansas have proposed rewriting or repealing the state's proof-of-citizenship law. Former state Sen. Jean Schodorf, the expected Democratic challenger for Kobach, is calling on legislators to audit how Kobach's office has administered the law.
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 9 months ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 9 months ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 9 months ago )
U.S. News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 9 months ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 9 months ago )
Local/State News
Committee leaves transportation funding to lawmakers
Georgia will have to cover a $1 billion to $1.5 billion transportation funding gap to stay economically competitive, a committee of lawmakers is warning in a report issued Tuesday.
5:36AM ( 9 months ago )
US off war footing at year's end, but wars go on
Taking America off a permanent war footing is proving harder than President Barack Obama may have suggested.
6:13PM ( 9 months ago )
GOP leader regrets talk to white supremacists; party leaders rally around him
House Republican leaders rallied around one of their own, Whip Steve Scalise, on Tuesday after he said he regrets speaking 12 years ago to a white supremacist organization and condemns the views of such groups.
6:08PM ( 9 months ago )
Clinton racks up elected Dems in Georgia
Presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton is gathering support from a long list of prominent Georgia Democrats.
By Associated Press
2:19PM ( 1 hour ago )
HEMC members have power restored, may experience blinks
Some Habersham Electric Membership Corp. members may experience brief power outages today.
1:09PM ( 2 hours ago )
Jackson Co. native, UNG grad named Kentucky Commissioner of Education
A Jackson County native and graduate of the University of North Georgia is the new Kentucky Commissioner of Education.
By AccessWDUN staff
11:10AM ( 4 hours ago )
Senate to vote on massive defense bill that Obama has threatened to veto
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate is poised to vote Wednesday on a $612 billion defense policy bill that President Barack Obama says he'll veto over a larger dispute about government spending.Obama doesn't...
10:57AM ( 4 hours ago )
Man airlifted after overnight house fire near Cleveland
State investigators are probing an overnight house fire that left one man seriously burned west of Cleveland.
9:11AM ( 6 hours ago )