“Feds back court ban on proof of citizenship for voter registration”

Josh Gerstein:

In an unusual move, the Obama Administration is backing the issuance of a court injunction blocking a federal official’s decision to approve new voter registration forms that allow three states to insist that voters provide copies of documents proving their U.S. citizenship.

In legal papers filed Monday morning, the Justice Department urged U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon to grant a preliminary injunction sought by the League of Women Voters aimed at preventing Kansas, Alabama and Georgia from using so-called “motor voter” forms that require proof of citizenship.

The unusual filing (in which a defendant consents to preliminary injunction against it) begins:

The United States consents to plaintiffs’ request for entry of a preliminary injunction. On January 29, 2016, the Executive Director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (“Commission”) approved the requests of three states—Alabama, Georgia, and Kansas—to modify their state-specific instructions on the National Mail Voter Registration Form (“Federal Form”). However, in deciding to include the states’ documentary proof of citizenship requirements on the Federal Form, the Executive Director did not make the determination that this information was “necessary to enable the appropriate State election official to assess the eligibility of the applicant and to administer voter registration and other parts of the election process.” 52 U.S.C. § 20508. Because the National Voter Registration Act permits only information satisfying this “necessity” requirement to be included on the Federal Form, the Executive Director’s decisions are not consistent with the statute. While plaintiffs have made a number of other arguments, the Court need not reach them in order to issue an injunction. The United States requests that the decisions be enjoined on this narrow ground.

Update: The end of the filing has a very interesting declaration from ED Brian Newby.

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