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Arizona, Kansas Sue U.S. Over Voters Proof of Citizenship

Aug. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Arizona and Kansas sued the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, seeking a court order forcing it to amend voter registration forms for those states so that people signing up are required to prove they’re citizens.

The states’ complaint, filed yesterday in federal court in Topeka, Kansas, comes two months after the U.S. Supreme Court threw out Arizona’s law requiring such proof from would-be registrants.

Writing for the majority, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said then that the state could petition the election commission to amend its form to add the requirement, which he said otherwise runs afoul of federal law.

“As sovereign states, plaintiffs have the constitutional right, power and privilege to establish voting qualifications, including voter registration requirements,” Kansas and Arizona said in their complaint.

Current law requires only that those registering to vote using the standardized federal form swear an oath that they’re American citizens, according to the complaint. The Supreme Court’s ruling doesn’t prevent Arizona from requiring the proof from voters using a state registration form.

Justice Spokesman

Peter Carr, a spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department, declined to comment on the states’ suit.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne are named as plaintiffs in the complaint. Both are Republicans.

Non-citizens have allegedly registered and voted in each state, according to the complaint.

Kansas, which already required voters to be U.S. citizens, amended its laws in 2011 to make voters provide “satisfactory evidence” of that status, the state said. Arizona voters codified the proof-of-citizenship requirement in a 2004 referendum.

Each state, having previously been rebuffed in bids to have the Election Assistance Commission revise its registration forms, renewed their requests after the Supreme Court ruling, only to be told the agency lacked the necessary quorum to decide the request, according to the complaint.

That response violated the U.S. Constitution’s 10th Amendment, which says those powers not granted to the federal government, nor prohibited to the states, are reserved to the states or the people, the states said.

The agency hasn’t had a quorum since December 2010, has had no commissioners since December 2011, no executive director since then and no general counsel since May 2012, according to the complaint.

The case is Kobach v. The United States Election Assistance Commission, 13-cv-04095, U.S. District Court, District of Kansas (Topeka).

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in the Chicago federal courthouse at

aharris16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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