• The League sent a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on House Administration urging Representatives to vote no on H.R. 412 and H.R. 195. These bills would repeal the presidential public financing system and terminate the Election Assistance Commission (EAC).

  • A panel at the 2015 Voting and Elections Summit

    The League was pleased to join dozens of voting rights advocates, state and local elections officials, congressional staff and academics at last week’s 2015 Voting and Elections Summit in Washington D.C. The annual event brings together a wide range of stakeholders to discuss the latest innovations and ongoing challenges in election administration and voting systems.

  • The League joined a letter calling on the U.S. Senate to hold up or down floor votes during the September work period to ensure the Election Assistance Commission is fully staffed. The EAC is vital to ensuring that the right to vote for all eligible Americans is not compromised and that elections run efficiently and fairly.

     


    September 8, 2014

  • Arguments Today: Federal Voting Protections are Key

    Tens of Thousands of People Could Find it Harder to Vote As Kansas and Arizona Seek to Impose Strict Proof of Citizenship Requirements

    Denver, CO – With Congress’ power to protect voters in federal elections in jeopardy, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver will hear oral arguments today in a landmark voting rights case, Kris W. Kobach et al. v. United States Election Assistance Commission.

    The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School is representing the League of Women Voters — which along with its Kansas and Arizona affiliates, joined the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) as defendants in the case — arguing new laws in Kansas and Arizona requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote violate federal law.

    The League of Women Voters represented by the Brennan Center and pro bono counsel Kirkland & Ellis LLP and David G. Seely of the law firm Fleeson, Gooing, Coulson & Kitch, LLC, operates one of the longest-running nonpartisan voter registration efforts in the nation. Kansas and Arizona’s strict proof of citizenship laws have harmed voter registration drives and undermined Congressional efforts to provide access to the ballot in federal elections, according to a brief submitted by the League and other civic organizations.   

    “These laws could prevent tens of thousands of citizens from exercising their right to vote,” said Wendy Weiser, who directs the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program and represents the Leagues in this case. “Last year, the Supreme Court invalidated Arizona’s law and decisively confirmed Congress’ authority to protect the right to vote in federal elections. Officials in Kansas and Arizona are attempting to undermine that authority, which could seriously harm voters.”

    “These new laws make it harder for non-partisan civic groups like the League to advocate for Americans’ voting rights and register eligible voters,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, national League President. “Kansas and Arizona are flouting congressional authority and making it more difficult for eligible voters to cast a ballot.”

    “Arizona’s proof of citizenship requirement has drastically harmed our efforts to register voters and promote civic participation,” said Robyn Prud’homme-Bauer of the League of Women Voters of Arizona. “After the state implemented this requirement, it became nearly impossible for us to conduct effective voter registration efforts because potential voters we encountered did not have access to their birth certificates, or were hesitant to share personal information.”

    “Kansans will be left out of the democratic process if this new requirement is upheld,” said Dolores Furtado, President of the League of Women Voters of Kansas. “When we make the voter registration process complex, it confuses people and means that fewer people will register and plan to vote.”

    “Kirkland & Ellis is honored to be part of the team that is seeking to defeat these extraneous and entirely unnecessary requirements — requirements that strike at the very heart of participatory democracy by substantially interfering with the right to vote, particularly among the poor, minorities, and other traditionally disenfranchised communities,” said Michael Keats of Kirkland & Ellis, who also represents the Leagues.

    “Our firm is pleased to be able to assist the national, Kansas, and Arizona chapters of the League of Women Voters to present their unique perspective regarding voting rights in this important matter,” said David G. Seely of Fleeson, Gooing, Coulson & Kitch.

    This case follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2013 ruling in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., which invalidated Arizona’s law requiring documentary proof of citizenship to register to vote, as it applied to the federal registration form. The ruling stated the law violated the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, a statute that was well within Congress’s broad powers to regulate federal elections. Kansas and Arizona are now seeking to force the EAC to change the federal form to allow those states to require proof of citizenship as part of the voter registration process.

    While the case is in process, Kansas and Arizona are moving ahead to limit voter participation with a two-tiered system with two sets of voter registration lists for state and federal elections. Under these rules, voters who register with documentary proof of citizenship on state forms are eligible to vote for the complete ballot — including ballot initiatives, and state and local candidates at every level. But voters who register using the federal form and do not provide citizenship documents can only receive ballots for federal candidates. This two-tiered voter registration system is being challenged in a separate suit.

    Contact: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331, kceballos@lwv.org

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    The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

  • Register to Vote buttons

    Late last month, a U.S. District Court in Kansas ruled in Kobach v. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) that the states of Kansas and Arizona could require documentary proof of citizenship when applicants use the Federal Voter Registration Form.

  • The League filed a motion to stay a decision of the District Court of Kansas pending an appeal in the case of Kobach v. U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

  • BAD DECISION ON PROOF OF CITIZENSHIP WILL HURT VOTERS

    “U.S. District Judge ruling does not follow Supreme Court roadmap in ITCA,” says League

    Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. District Court for Kansas issued a ruling in Kobach v. U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) that approves the documentary proof of citizenship requirement for voter registration by the states of Arizona and Kansas, saying it is not preempted by the federal National Voter Registration Act. Previously, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona (ITCA) that such a requirement is preempted by the federal law, but left room for further consideration of additional issues. The Leagues of Women Voters of the United States, Arizona and Kansas submitted a merits brief to the court as defendant-interveners in this case.

    “This decision is profoundly disappointing,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. “The judge didn't follow the roadmap laid out by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Arizona v. ITCA decision, which allowed for consideration of new factual and constitutional issues. Instead, the court chose to reopen the issue of federal preemption by questioning the actions of the EAC in rejecting the Arizona and Kansas requests to modify the National Mail Voter Registration Form.

    “The decision is so broad that it would allow a state to implement almost any restriction on voter registration,” said MacNamara.

    “It is a harsh decision that will hurt voters for no real reason,” MacNamara said. “The court made an incorrect legal decision, and we are confident it will be overturned.”

    League leaders in Arizona and Kansas also reacted with disapproval at the court’s decision. Robyn Prud’homme-Bauer, president of the League of Women Voters of Arizona, vowed to “continue working to protect the rights of all Arizona voters.”

    Dolores Furtado, president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas, said “we have experienced first-hand the harmful effects that documentary proof of citizenship requirements have had on new voter applicants and voter service organizations, like ours, in Kansas.”

    Earlier this year, the League of Women Voters of the United States joined with the League of Women Voters of Arizona and the League of Women Voters of Kansas to file comments with the EAC regarding the requests made by the Secretaries of State of Arizona and Kansas. Previously the League filed a motion and was allowed to intervene in the Kobach case.

    The League is represented in this case by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, as well as pro bono counsel Kirkland & Ellis LLP and David G. Seely of the law firm Fleeson, Gooing, Coulson & Kitch, LLC.

    Contact: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331, kceballos@lwv.org

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    Like” the League on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter: @LWV.

    The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

  • COURT HEARS APPEAL ON ARIZONA, KANSAS PROOF OF CITIZENSHIP REQUIREMENTS FOR VOTER REGISTRATION

    “EAC ruling was well-reasoned and correct – protects voters,” says League

    Washington, DC – Today, there was a hearing in the U.S. District Court for Kansas to determine if the actions of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), denying requests from Arizona and Kansas to modify the National Mail Voter Registration Form by requiring voters to present documentary proof of citizenship, were legally correct. The Leagues of Women Voters of the U.S., Arizona and Kansas submitted a merit brief to the court as defendant-interveners in this case.

    “The EAC was correct in rejecting requests from Arizona and Kansas to modify the Federal voter registration form by requiring applicants produce documentary proof of citizenship,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters of the U.S.

    “The EAC based its well-reasoned, 46-page decision on the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), the rules and regulations implementing the Federal Form, and established precedent, including the earlier denial of Arizona’s identical request nearly a decade ago,” she said.

    “The sole issue on appeal before this court is whether the EAC acted arbitrarily and capriciously in denying those requests. And the answer is plainly, No,” said MacNamara.

    “We have experienced first-hand the harmful effects that documentary proof of citizenship requirements have had on voters and voter service organizations like ours in Kansas,” said Dolores Furtado, president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas (LWVKS). The EAC decision is the right one and one that protects Kansas voters.”

    “We stand firm behind the EAC's decision because the claims by our Secretary of State regarding registration and voting by ineligible persons in Arizona do not stand up to scrutiny and do not support the changes they are trying to make to the form,” said Robyn Prud’homme-Bauer, president of the League of Women Voters of Arizona (LWVAZ).

    “This is the correct decision by the EAC, plain and simple. This ruling is consistent with the U.S. Constitution and reinforces critical protections for voters and voting rights,” concluded MacNamara.

    Earlier this year, the League of Women Voters of the United States joined with the League of Women Voters of Arizona and the League of Women Voters of Kansas to file comments with the EAC regarding these requests made by the Secretaries of State of Arizona and Kansas. Previously the League filed a motion and was allowed to intervene in Kobach, et al v. U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). The League is represented in this case by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, as well as pro bono counsel Kirkland & Ellis LLP and David G. Seely of the law firm Fleeson, Gooing, Coulson & Kitch, LLC.

    “Kansas and Arizona are trying to undermine basic federal protections of the right to vote that have helped Americans register for more than 20 years,” said Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. “We urge the federal court to ensure all eligible voters can make their voices heard at the ballot box.”

    Last year, the Supreme Court held in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., that Arizona’s requirement that voter registrants provide documentary proof-of-citizenship was preempted by the NVRA with respect to applicants using the Federal Form. Kansas and Arizona seek to overturn that court decision.

    Contact: Kelly Ceballos, kceballos@lwv.org, 202-263-1331

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    The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. 

  •  ELECTION ASSISTANCE COMMISSION (EAC) REJECTS KANSAS, ARIZONA REQUEST TO CHANGE NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FORM

    League Applauds EAC Decision: “This Ruling Protects Voters and Voting Rights”

     Washington, DC – The League of Women Voters of the U.S., Arizona and Kansas applauded yesterday’s decision by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to reject requests from the states of Arizona and Kansas to modify the national mail-in voter registration form to require voters to provide documentary proof of citizenship with that form.

    “This is the correct decision by the EAC, plain and simple,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. “This ruling is consistent with the U.S. Constitution and one that reinforces critical protections for voters and voting rights.”

    “The Arizona and Kansas requests are at odds with the very purpose and goals of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA),” added MacNamara. “The NVRA was enacted in order to provide for a simple voter registration form, promote national uniformity in the voter registration process, increase voter registration and participation, and facilitate large-scale voter registration drives by groups like the League.”

    Earlier this month, the League of Women Voters of the United States joined with the League of Women Voters of Arizona and the League of Women Voters of Kansas to file comments with the EAC regarding these requests made by the Secretaries of State of Arizona and Kansas. Previously the League filed a motion and was allowed to intervene in Kobach, et al v. U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). The League is represented in this case by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, as well as pro bono counsel Kirkland & Ellis LLP and David G. Seely of the law firm Fleeson, Gooing, Coulson & Kitch, LLC.

    Last year, the Supreme Court held in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., that Arizona’s requirement that voter registrants provide documentary proof-of-citizenship was preempted by the NVRA with respect to applicants using the Federal Form. Kansas and Arizona seek to overturn that court decision.

    “We are very pleased with the EAC's decision because the assertions by our Secretary of State regarding registration and voting by ineligible persons in Arizona do not stand up to scrutiny and do not support the changes they are trying to make to the form,” said Robyn Prud’homme-Bauer, President of the League of Women Voters of Arizona (LWVAZ).

    “The Kansas League is delighted with this ruling,” said Dolores Furtado, President of the League of Women Voters of Kansas (LWVKS). “We have experienced first-hand the harmful effects that documentary proof of citizenship requirements have had on voters and voter service organizations like ours in Kansas. This decision protects Kansas voters.”

    “The League has worked tirelessly to remove barriers from voting and advocate on behalf of the voting rights of all Americans,” MacNamara concluded. “This decision is another important win for voters and voting rights.”

    CONTACT: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331, kceballos@lwv.org

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    Like” the League on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter: @LWV.

    The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

  • American Flag

    Last month, we told you that the League of Women Voters of the United States joined with the League of Women Voters of Kansas and the League of Women Voters of Arizona to file a motion to intervene in a lawsuit between

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