Breaking: Federal District Court Issues Preliminary Injunction Against Kansas Proof of Citizenship Requirements for Registration at DMV

A federal district court has issued this 67-page opinion temporarily preventing Kansas from requiring those registering to vote at the DMV while getting or renewing licenses to provide documentary proof of citizenship.

From the Court’s conclusion:

Under the heightened preliminary injunction standard, Plaintiffs have sustained their burden of making a strong showing that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the Kansas DPOC law violates the NVRA provision that a motor voter registration application can require only the minimum amount of information necessary to enable state officials to assess an applicant’s eligibility to vote, and that they will suffer irreparable harm without an injunction. Without the injunction, approximately 18,000 Kansas motor voter registration applicants will be precluded from registering to vote solely based on their failure to provide DPOC. The record in this case suggests that there is a less burdensome way for the State to assess whether applicants meet the citizenship eligibility requirement; namely, by asking applicants to complete an attestation of citizenship under penalty of perjury.

The injunction requires the Secretary of State to register to vote those applicants whose only infirmity was not having the opportunity to produce DPOC contemporaneously with their driver’s license applications, or later because of lack of consistent notice or reasonable opportunity to cure that infirmity. Although the Court is cognizant that the injunction will cause some administrative burden to the State, it is a burden that is outweighed by the risk of thousands of otherwise eligible voters being disenfranchised in upcoming federal elections. On balance, the public interest in the enfranchisement of otherwise eligible voters, the irreparable harm to prospective voters, the balance of harms, and Plaintiffs’ strong showing that they are likely to succeed on their claim that the DPOC law is preempted by NVRA § 5’s provision that the State only require the minimum amount of information necessary for the State to assess citizenship of the applicant, justifies entry of this preliminary injunction.

The order is stayed until the end of the month to give Kansas time to implement this or seek a stay from the 10th Circuit.

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