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Federal judge rejects requests to put voter citizenship ruling on hold

[JURIST] US District Judge Eric Melgren on Wednesday ruled that Kansas and Arizona voters will have to provide proof of US citizenship while registering to vote using the federal form, despite a pending appeal by a US agency of the federal judge's ruling that aids in the enforcement of new voter registration requirements. Melgren rejected requests [AP report] from the US Election Assistance Commission (EAC) [official website] and voting rights groups to put his March 19 ruling, which ordered the commission to add instructions to national voting registration forms for Kansas and Arizona citizens regarding proof of citizenship requirements, on hold as the case goes to the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit [official website]. While the states contends that the requirements are necessary to ensure that non-citizens do not vote in their elections, the EAC has expressed concern that the additional documentation required will discourage people from registering to vote.

Debate over voter ID laws [JURIST backgrounder] has sparked continuing controversy in the US. In April a judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that Wisconsin's Act 23 [text, PDF], which requires residents to present photo identification to vote, violates the Voting Rights Act and the US Constitution. Also in April the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court upheld its earlier decision striking down [JURIST report] Pennsylvania's voter ID law. Earlier that month a judge for the Pulaski County Circuit Court for the 6th Division [official website] struck down [JURIST report] an Arkansas voter ID law, finding that it violates the state constitution.

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