A judge for the US District Court for the District of Kansas [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Tuesday that Kansas cannot require voters to provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] had challenged the law [JURIST report] in February on behalf of six individuals. The ACLU argued that the law violates the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) [text], which requires voters to provide only the “minimum amount of information necessary” to determine their eligibility to vote. In her ruling, Judge Julie Robinson granted the ACLU’s motion for preliminary injunction [JURIST report] of the law and ordered Secretary of State Kris Kobach to re-register about 18,000 voters:
Under the heightened preliminary injunction standard, Plaintiffs have sustained their burden of making a strong showing that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the Kansas DPOC law violates the NVRA provision that a motor voter registration application can require only the minimum amount of information necessary to enable state officials to assess an applicant’s eligibility to vote, and that they will suffer irreparable harm without an injunction. Without the injunction, approximately 18,000 Kansas motor voter registration applicants will be precluded from registering to vote solely based on their failure to provide DPOC. The record in this case suggests that there is a less burdensome way for the State to assess whether applicants meet the citizenship eligibility requirement; namely, by asking applicants to complete an attestation of citizenship under penalty of perjury.
Robinson stayed her ruling until May 31 to give the state time to appeal.
Voting rights remain a controversial legal issue in the US. Last month the US Supreme Court refused to block [JURIST report] Texas from enforcing its controversial voter ID law. Earlier in April a federal judge upheld [JURIST report] North Carolina’s voter ID law. Also last month a federal appeals court held that a Wisconsin voter ID law needs to be re-examined [JURIST report]. Last year the Supreme Court denied certiorari [JURIST report] in Frank v. Walker [docket], allowing Wisconsin’s voter ID law to stand.