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Kobach et al. v. The United States Election Assistance Commission

The Brennan Center, along with co-counsel Kirkland & Ellis and Fleeson, Gooing, Coulson & Kitch, LLC, represents the League of Women Voters of the United States, along with its Arizona and Kansas affiliates, in a lawsuit opposing harsh state laws that require documentary proof of citizenship to register to vote.

Published: June 29, 2015

The Brennan Center, along with co-counsel Kirkland & Ellis and Fleeson, Gooing, Coulson & Kitch, LLC, represents the League of Women Voters of the United States, along with its Arizona and Kansas affiliates, in a lawsuit opposing harsh state laws that require documentary proof of citizenship to register to vote. The League joined the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) as Defendants in a suit, Kris W. Kobach et al. v. United States Election Assistance Commission, filed by Arizona and Kansas officials in August.

In a June 2013 opinion, Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., the Supreme Court invalidated Arizona’s law requiring documentary proof of citizenship as it applied to the federal registration form. The Court found Arizona’s law violated the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), a 1993 law that, pursuant to Congress’s power to regulate federal elections, provides a simple application card that eligible Americans may use to register to vote for federal races. Arizona, along with Kansas, are now attempting to change that result; the states seek to force the EAC to change the federal form to allow them to require documentary proof of citizenship, which the federal form does not allow. On January 17, 2014, the EAC issued a decision denying the states' requests. Kansas and Arizona sought judicial review of the decision, and a federal district court heard oral argument on February 11.  

The League, one of the longest standing voter registration organizations in the nation, argues that documentary proof of citizenship requirements harm its nonpartisan voter registration efforts, undermining its core mission of promoting voter participation, and that Arizona and Kansas should not be permitted to circumvent Congress's protection of the right to register to vote in federal elections. 

On March 19, a District Court ruled that the EAC must change the federal registration form to allow the states to require documentary proof. The League, along with the other Intervenors and the EAC, appealed the decision, and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the District Court's order pending appeal.

On May 27, the Brennan Center, along with its co-counsel and counsel for other parties, submitted a brief on behalf of the League and other Intervenors. Oral argument was held August 25. 

On November 7, the Tenth Circuit issued a ruling in our favor, holding that the EAC need not include the states’ requirements on the federal form. 

On March 21, Kansas and Arizona filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the Supreme Court of the United States appealing the Tenth Circuit Court's ruling that the EAC need not include the state's requirements on the federal form. On May 26, the Brennan Center, along with its co-counsel and counsel for other parties, submitted a brief in opposition to Kansas and Arizona's Petition for Writ of Certiorari. 

On June 29, the Supreme Court of the United States denied Kansas and Arizona's petition for Writ of Certiorari, thereby letting stand the 10th Circuit's ruling that the states may not force applicants using the federal voter registration form to show documents proving citizenship when registering to vote in federal races. 

Further Information

District Court Documents

Appellate Court Documents