The Supreme Court today refused to accept a case which sought to allow states to supplement a federal voter registration form so as to require proof of citizenship to vote.

Such proof is particularly important given how freely many states are handing out drivers licenses to illegal immigrants, and the Obama administration’s unilateral implementation of quasi-amnesty deferrals (some of which were stopped in court). It’s just not enough anymore that someone is here legally (or at least, is not being deported).

The Petition for Certiorari and other filings in Kobach v. United States Election Assistance Commission are here. The 10th Circuit decision is here.

ScotusBlog summarized the issues:

Issue: (1) Whether Article I, Section 2 and the Seventeenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution require the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to defer to the states’ determination that provision of documentary evidence of citizenship is necessary to enforce the states’ voter qualifications; and (2) whether Article I, Section 2 and the Seventeenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution permit a dual voter rolls system in which some voters who are qualified to vote for federal office holders are not also qualified to vote for those “in the most numerous branch of the state legislature.”

Bloomberg Politics reports on the development:

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider letting states require evidence of citizenship when people register to vote for federal elections, rejecting an appeal from Arizona and Kansas.

The rebuff is a victory for the Obama administration and voting- and minority-rights groups that battled the two states in court. It leaves intact a decision by a U.S. agency that blocked the states from requiring proof of citizenship for voters in federal elections.

It’s the second high court defeat on the issue for Arizona. The state has a law that requires evidence of citizenship, but the Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that it couldn’t be enforced when people use a standard registration document known as the “federal form” to register to vote for Congress and the president.

That 7-2 ruling left open the possibility that Arizona could impose its requirements through a different avenue. The court said the state could submit a request to the agency that developed the form, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, asking it to tell Arizona voters they needed to supply proof of citizenship.

Prof. Rick Hansen at Election Law Blog writes that this was a power struggle between the feds and the states:

This is a very big deal. Kobach had the potential to shift more power away from the federal government in administering elections toward the states. The question was whether the states of AZ and KS could force the federal government to require citizenship documentation to accompany the universal federal form for voter registration. This is a huge win for those who want to see a greater federal role and uniformity in elections. My earlier coverage of Kobach v. EAC is here.

Uniformity in elections has implications. One of which is that states will have a more difficult time preserving the integrity of federal elections in their states.

Non-citizens voting is not a trivial problem:

A new study by two Old Dominion University professors, based on survey data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, indicated that 6.4 percent of all non-citizens voted illegally in the 2008 presidential election, and 2.2 percent in the 2010 midterms. Given that 80 percent of non-citizens lean Democratic, they cite Al Franken ’s 312-vote win in the 2008 Minnesota U.S. Senate race as one likely tipped by non-citizen voting. As a senator, Franken cast the 60th vote needed to make Obamacare law.

The authors of that study wrote:

In spite of substantial public controversy, very little reliable data exists concerning the frequency with which non-citizen immigrants participate in United States elections. Although such participation is a violation of election laws in most parts of the United States, enforcement depends principally on disclosure of citizenship status at the time of voter registration. This study examines participation rates by non-citizens using a nationally representative sample that includes non-citizen immigrants. We find that some non-citizens participate in U.S. elections, and that this participation has been large enough to change meaningful election outcomes
including Electoral College votes, and Congressional elections. Non-citizen votes likely gave Senate Democrats the pivotal 60th vote needed to overcome filibusters in order to pass health care reform and other Obama administration priorities in the 111th Congress.

(More here)

This is not just a battle of forms. It’s a battle for preventing theft of elections.


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