The 2016 elections could be decided not only by how America votes, but by who in America is declared eligible to vote.
With that critical question in mind, a lawsuit is being heard Monday in federal court in which the League of Women Voters is trying to stop three states and the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) from setting their own standards for voter registration.
EAC Executive Director Brian Newby recently approved requests from Alabama, Georgia and Kansas that require a potential voter to provide documentary proof of citizenship when an applicant uses the federal mail voter registration application form.
That didn’t set well with the League of Women Voters.
“As with many issues, the Left disdains the balance the Framers adopted in the Constitution and objects to this delegation of power to the states. They prefer to see power over elector eligibility centralized in Washington, D.C.,” wrote Hans von Spakovsky in National Review.
“Voters should not have to face an obstacle course to participate and vote,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League. “The recent decision by EAC Executive Director Brian Newby is simply contrary to federal law and we expect it to be overturned.”
The League charges that Newby should have put the matter before all of the EAC’s commissioners, and filed suit to block the states from making their own rules.
However, the EAC may have more problems than simply the League’s arguments. It is defended by the Justice Department’s Voting Section lawyers.
“Allowing lawyers for the highly partisan Voting Section to write agency policy obliterates all semblance of independence and bipartisan balance,” wrote van Spakovsky. “The Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division has become one of the most controversial and ideological components in the entire U.S. government. … It was Voting Section lawyers who fought in federal court to keep Kansas from enforcing a similar state law to ensure that only citizens registered to vote.”
One Voting Section lawyer, identified by van Spakovsky as Bradley Heard, “engaged in potentially unethical conduct when he tweeted on his private Twitter account” criticisms of the judge in the Kansas case.
“My sources tell me that Heard is the attorney who made and wrote the EAC’s decision to reject Kansas’s and Arizona’s request to modify the voter-registration form to include state requirements in the first place,” van Spakovsky said.
“Based on my experience working in the Voting Section, it would not surprise me if Bradley Heard and the other lawyers who may have tried to sabotage the Kansas and Arizona requests are now back on the case. Except this time, instead of writing policy for the EAC designed to thwart Kansas and Arizona, they may end up attacking the new EAC policy behind closed doors when they are supposed to be defending it in court,” he added.