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Lawyers’ Committee Statement: Election Assistance Commission Decision Makes Voter Registration More Difficult

For Immediate Release February 4, 2016


Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Executive Director Brian Newby made it harder for Americans in Alabama, Georgia, and Kansas to participate in our democracy. Newby’s alarming decision purports to authorize those states to require proof of citizenship documentation from voter registrants who use the National Mail Voter Registration Form (Federal Form). This action directly contradicts a string of federal court decisions, including one by the U.S. Supreme Court, upholding the EAC’s prior refusals to permit states to require such documents. The Federal Form, designed to guarantee a “simple means of registering to vote,” already requires applicants to attest to U.S. citizenship under penalty of perjury. Laws that require additional documentation have proven to exclude eligible voters. To date, Kansas has declared more than 30,000 applications “incomplete” because they were not accompanied by documentary proof of citizenship.

The EAC has denied a number of requests to modify the Federal Form with documentary proof of citizenship requirements submitted by multiple states. In two separate lawsuits, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law successfully prevented attempts to overturn or ignore those denials, playing a key role in securing the 2013 victory before the U.S. Supreme Court and the 2014 victory before the Tenth Circuit. Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee said, “With voter turnout rates at historic lows in many states across our country, we need our government to take action that makes it easier to participate in our democracy. We urge the Executive Director to withdraw this decision and lift what will otherwise prove to be a substantial barrier to the franchise.”


About The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Lawyers' Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The Lawyers' Committee celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 as it continued its quest of "Moving America Toward Justice." The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment, voting, education and environmental justice.

For more information about the Lawyers' Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

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