Two-Tier Voting Systems Face Lawsuit Double Whammy

Organizations have filed state and federal lawsuits against laws in Kansas and Arizona that require voters to prove citizenship when registering to vote

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Orlin Wagner / AP

A letter from election officials lists the valid citizenship documents needed to register to vote in Kansas for the first time.

The two-tier voting systems in Kansas and Arizona received a double-punch over the last week with dual federal and state court challenges to their new voting laws.

In both states, citizens are required to show proof of citizenship before they register to vote in state elections. But as the result of a June Supreme Court ruling, the rule doesn’t apply in federal elections. This has created a “two-tier” voting system where some citizens can cast a ballot in a presidential election, yet cannot vote for their Secretary of State.

As a result the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against Kansas, arguing the new system divides voters into “separate and unequal classes” and denies citizens the right to vote. Kansas state officials told Bloomberg News that as of October over 18,000 residents had been unable to register because of the system. The Brennan Center for Justice based at New York University in conjunction with the League of Women Voters also joined a lawsuit that argues their two-tiered voting violates federal law and undermines Congress’ authority to protect voters.

The system, the federal lawsuit claims, makes voting more difficult for residents and directly conflicts with the League of Women Voter’s mission to register as many voters as possible. “The Kansas and Arizona laws would make it harder for certain citizens to vote,” said Wendy Weiser, who directs the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program and represents the Leagues in this case in a statement. “The Supreme Court this year invalidated Arizona’s law and clearly confirmed Congress’s authority to protect the right to vote in federal elections. This lawsuit by Kansas and Arizona is a transparent attempt to undermine that authority, and it could seriously hurt voters.”

In June, the Supreme Court ruled that Arizona’s law that requires voters to confirm their citizenship before registering using the federal form is pre-empted by the National Voter Registration Act’s requirement that all states accept and use the form. Under the 1993 law, voters are required to affirm their citizenship, but they do not have to provide documentation.

In response, both states joined forces and filed a federal lawsuit in August against the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to modify the forms to add the proof-of-citizenship requirement. Their lawsuit, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach told the Kansas City Star, essentially wants to prevent the same thing as the ACLU lawsuit—a two-tier system. Though the results of the two lawsuits would differ significantly.

“They’re suing to stop the very thing I’m trying to stop, which is a two-tiered system,” Kobach said. “Another day, another ACLU lawsuit.”

11 comments
ThomasHall
ThomasHall

Another example of red GOP-dominated states trying to suppress the vote no matter how they GOP or their GOPeon followers lie and spin it. The GOP just like the GOP-dominated SCOTUS know exactly what they are doing targeting the poor, the elderly, minorities, and usually have a host of other restrictions like reducing or blocking early, late, weekend, mail-in voting, etc.

Notice that the 90% white GOP on the wrong side of morality and demographics have to lie, cheat, and steal to win elections like using their GOP elections-rigging gerrymandering, and their GOP-SCOTUS' democracy-corrupting Citizens United flood of unlimited, usually anonymous, campaign funding by the rich and their nationwide voter suppression efforts driven by the Koch brother's ALEC. The GOP are despicable and not patriotic at all but dishonest, greedy, bigoted and selfish. think God does not know what they are up to?

TedRollins
TedRollins

why is it so hard to show some i.d.? why are you offended to show I.d.? you can get state i.d. for $9 to show you are a citizen. illegal immigrants should not be voting. democrats want them to vote because they will vote for the democrat that will give them welfare. today everyone votes for who will give the most welfare. if you are offended by my comment...get of welfare and out of the country. you are the problem

JamesGordon1
JamesGordon1

WHO  are  these  people trying to discourage  people  from  voting ? It is a  party  that feels  they  can not  win  because of  what they  believe  so  they must  STOP people  from  voting .A  friend  of  mine,, (a life time  republican  )..last  year  ,  since  he is  old he  did not  renew  his  I.D  card . He  was  told  he  could  not  vote , This made  him  angry . I reminded  him it is  his  own  republican  party  that  did  this , He  will no longer  talk  to me . The  truth  hurts .

paulejb
paulejb

What is wrong with these states? Are they unfairly trying to prevent the Democrat party from stealing elections?

TaraJeanOlson
TaraJeanOlson

why isn't CA included in this? Isn't the Sunshine state, the most corrupt??

mikeGconner
mikeGconner

I  was a  republican  I voted  for  H Bush ,  And  being  a Texan I  voted  for  W  for  governor and  POTUS . I no  longer  vote  Republican .The  Republicans LOST  because  of  who they  are ,,not  because  someone  cheated , The y  can  not understand how  they  lost  unless  someone  cheated .If  you will  remember  back a  few  years ago  this  is  what  we  said about  democrats.Keep  on  denying  reality and  keep on losing  elections . PEOPLE  do not  like  what you believe ...


drudown
drudown

@JamesGordon1

Sorry, LAWS supersede your GOP "talking points".

Here, it is a self-evident FACT insufficient evidence exists of actual instances of "voter fraud" in the first instances, much less the open admissions of enacting same for purely political reasons, i.e., given there hasn't actually been "voter fraud" perpetrated by voters, here there is NO COMPELLING STATE INTEREST in making the FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT TO VOTE more onerous. Any such subversion constitutes a violation of the Equal Protection Clause. Why does the (once mighty) media give the GOP a "free pass" on Gerrymandering which is PER SE unlawful?  [see, Shaw v. Hunt (1996) 517 U.S. 899]

Moreover, Congress can override such state voting requirements in federal elections. [See, e.g., Oregon v. Mitchell (1970) 400 U.S. 112]

It is patently unclear why the "gerrymandering" by the GOP has not been challenged as incompatible with Supreme Court precedent. [See, United States Department of Commerce v. Montana (1992) 503 U.S. 442].

But I would imagine these GOP "cut throats" have no interest in what the law says. Do I have that right?

fhmadvocat
fhmadvocat

@paulejb Wrong Paulie, these states are trying to prevent Americans from voting.  And the Americans they are going after tend to vote for the Democrats.  Many years ago, my best friend, who is a very conservative Republican told me, "Always vote for those who protect your right to vote."  At the time, I felt he was right and still do.  I look at how the Republican party in most states are seeking to take away and make it harder for Americans like me to vote and as such it makes sense for me to vote for Democratic candidates.

MementoMori
MementoMori

@paulejb 

No, they're trying to prevent Democrats from voting. That's why study after study shows these laws disproportionally affect minorities and women - two groups that rightwingers like you spend more time attacking than attempting to appeal to.

But I can see where you'd be confused. Most rightwingers like you think liberal women are sl*ts and minority men are criminals.

drudown
drudown

@TaraJeanOlson 

How does it feel to be a TRAITOR to the strategic interests of the United States? 

Oh, I forgot. The Tea Party is funded by OPEC states.

And you aren't even a real person.