On Wednesday, a federal judge ordered the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to assist Kansas and Arizona in imposing state voter-ID laws. The EAC, a federal organization that handles election administration, had previously refused to add state-specific language requiring voters to provide proof of citizenship to national voter registration forms. While some Republican politicians and states’ rights advocates defend the ruling and the new voter requirements as a way to ensure only eligible citizens are allowed to vote, detractors claim that there is no proof that voter fraud is even an issue. According to the New York Times: There has been little evidence of in-person voter fraud or efforts by noncitizens to vote, but the poor and minorities are likely to be affected. Studies have shown that the poor and minorities often lack passports and access to birth certificates needed to register under the laws in question. Judge Melgren’s decision holds particular significance this election year, as it could prevent thousands of people from voting just as the governorship and other major offices are on the ballot in both states.The Supreme Court paved the way for Wednesday’s decision last June by ruling that, while Congress retained full power over federal election rules, the states could require proof of citizenship in state and local elections.
Andrew Mortazavi is a Spring 2014 editorial intern. Follow him on Twitter at @andrewmortazavi.