Arizona GOP voter suppression efforts follow the lead of Kris Kobach


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Nativist anti-immigrant lawyer Kris Kobach, the athor of Arizona's Prop. 200 (2004) and SB 1070 (despite disgraced former Sen. Russell Pearce's claims of authorship to the contrary), has a plan to get around the U.S. Supreme Court decision in June striking down the proof of citizenship requirement to register to vote in Arizona's Prop. 200 and a similar law in Kansas, where Kobach unbelievably is now Secretary of State. Kris Kobach's Bold New Plan to Keep People From Voting:

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has become a national figure by advising other states on how to implement anti-immigrant and voter suppression measures,
has come up with a new creative way to make it harder for Kansans to
vote: barring those who register to vote with a federal form from
casting ballots in state elections.

Back in June, the Supreme Court struck down
an Arizona elections law that required those registering to vote to
show proof of citizenship beyond what is required by federal voter
registration forms. In Kansas, Kobach has been struggling to deal with
the implementation of a similar proof-of-citizenship law, which has left
the voting status of at least 12,000 Kansans in limbo.

These voters, many of whom registered with the federal “motor voter”
form at the DMV, were supposed to have their citizenship information
automatically updated, a process that was delayed by a computer glitch. Kobach then suggested that these 12,000 voters be forced to cast provisional ballots – a suggestion that the state elections board rejected.

Now, the Lawrence Journal-World reports, Kobach has a new idea to deal with the problem that he created.
The paper reports that Kobach is considering a plan to circumvent the
Supreme Court’s decision in the Arizona case by creating two classes of
. Under this plan, those who register with a federal form would be
allowed to vote only in federal elections until they produced the
state-required citizenship documents. Those who meet the state
registration requirements would then be allowed to vote in state-level

Voting rights advocates in the state are understandably skeptical:

Dolores Furtado, president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas, said she would strongly oppose such a plan.

"It won't work," Furtado said. "When we can't handle registrations,
the process of applications and processing registrations, how are we
going to separate ballots?" she said. "This is creating a problem.
Whenever we make things complex, people shun away."

When the elections board rejected his provisional ballots plan, Kobach was taken aback,
saying that those who register to vote with the motor voter form aren’t
likely to vote anyway, so disenfranchising 12,000 of them wasn’t “a
major problem.” That seems to be his justification for the two classes
of voter plan as well.  According to the World-Journal, “Kobach said few
Kansans register to vote using the federal form, so it shouldn't affect
too many voters.”

Arizona's GOP voter suppression efforts are following the lead of Kris Kobach. Arizona Attorney General Tom "banned for life by the SEC" Horne issued an AG
Opinion (.pdf) on Monday creating two classes of voters, with those who register with the federal form only allowed to vote in federal elections.

Arizona Secretary of State Ken "Birther" Bennett, who requested the AG Opinion, now says he must follow Horne's legal opinion (as if he objects to this voter suppression scheme). Arizona to have two-track voting system:

Arizona elections officials are preparing to use a dual-track voting
system in next year’s elections that would require the use of two
different ballots, depending on how a voter was registered.

the system, voters who registered with federal registration forms would
be allowed to vote only in federal elections, while those who used
state forms and showed proof of citizenship would be allowed to vote in
federal, state and local contests.

The shift, triggered by an opinion Monday from state Attorney General Tom Horne, was immediately labeled as a restriction on voting rights.

But Horne and Secretary of State Ken Bennett said the move is necessary to comply with an Arizona voter mandate as well as federal law.

Bullshit. This is a coordinated voter suppression effort with Kris Kobach, who is calling the shots, just as Bennett is coordinating with Kobach on the lawsuit against the Elections Assistance Commission. Where is the "sovereignty" of the state of Arizona when we are giving carte blanche to the nativist anti-immigrant Secretary of State of Kansas Kris Kobach to write our laws for us?

This "seperate but equal" doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson was struck down in Brown v. Board of Education. But the Neo-Confederate "states' rights" insurrectionists in the Tea-Publican Party care little about constitutional law. They seek to impose a new order.

The response to the actions of Horne and Bennett from the usual GOP media outlet The Arizona Republic was swift and surprisingly harsh. Good for them. Here is the editorial opinion, Nice voting trick, boys:

Here’s an old trick: Create a phony problem and take credit for attacking it vigorously.

After years of hunting for voter fraud in Arizona, there is scant
evidence of non-citizens voting. The real problem is lack of voter

Nevertheless, two of Arizona’s top elected officials are ready with a
separate but unequal voter registration scheme that attacks the
non-existent problem and undermines efforts to increase voter
. (And they say Congress is dysfunctional.)

Yet there’s plenty of calculation behind this apparent madness.

Take a look at the players. Attorney General Tom Horne, who wants to
be re-elected, and Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who wants to be
governor, will face Republican primary contests next year.

Don’t bother Miss Marple. There’s no mystery about who gains when
Bennett asks the questions and Horne answers with an attorney general’s
opinion that will be a big applause line among GOP primary voters.

(Not so among national and international companies looking for a
modern state in which to set up shop. But nobody said this was
big-picture stuff.)

In Horne’s opinion, it’s A-OK for Arizona to allow people who
register with a state voter registration form to vote in all elections
and sign petitions for initiatives, referenda and recalls. Not so for
those who register to vote using the federal form. They can vote only in
federal elections.

That’s because:

We all know the feds can’t do anything right, so who needs their form?

Arizona covets the motto: “Civil Rights Retro State.”

The state enjoys being named in lawsuits.

All of the above.

* * *

In 2004, Arizona voters passed a requirement for people to prove
citizenship to register. Those were the days when demonizing
undocumented immigrants was as in-your-face as a Miley Cyrus dance
routine, and the idea that Juan the busboy was taking over our elections
was being sold by ambitious GOP politicians across the state.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court said Arizona’s proof-of-citizenship
requirement could not be used to reject federal voter registration
forms. Arizona had to accept them, too.

This 7-2 decision was written by one of the most un-liberal members
of the court: Justice Antonin Scalia, and joined by conservative Chief
Justice John Roberts.

Arizona previously asked the federal Elections Assistance Commission
to have the proof-of-citizenship requirement added to the federal form
in this state, and hit a roadblock.

Changing the federal form so all Arizona voters meet the same
requirements to register would be one way out of a problem — if we had a
problem with non-citizens voting, which we don’t.

Meanwhile, Bennett and Thomas will take credit for a confusing
dual-registration system that is likely to reduce voter turnout, but
help them in their respective primaries.

Tricky. But not good for Arizona.

And this rebuke from Laurie Roberts, Tom
Horne sends certain voters to the back of the bus

The state of Arizona officially ushered a group of this state’s
residents to the back of the bus on Monday, declaring that there are now
two kinds of voters in this state.

Attorney General Tom Horne announced that Arizona will henceforth
have two classes: voters who can fully participate in the political
process — signing petitions and casting ballots for the school board,
for City Council, for governor, for Congress and for propositions that
regulate the way we live.

… And voters who can’t.

Those second-class voters – the ones the U.S. Supreme Court has said
we must accept – will be relegated to casting ballots only for whom they
want to send to Washington.

Not since House Bill 2305 have I seen such electoral shenanigans. By
that I mean not since June, when the Arizona Legislature passed a raft
of election “reforms” that attempt to make it harder, among other
things, to recall elected officials or put citizen initiatives on the
ballot. Look for those “reforms” to be coming to a ballot near you next

That is, unless you’re a second-class voter. Then, you don’t get a say.

* * *

Lee Miller, attorney for the Republican Party, says Horne is on solid legal ground.

“This ruling simply tells chiefly the county recorders … to
faithfully execute the Constitution of Arizona and faithfully undertakes
the will of the voters when they adopted Proposition 200,” he told me.

Voting rights activists say it’s a calculated political move, one of a
number in recent years aimed at shoring up the Republican Party. This
time, by fighting against widespread voter fraud that doesn’t exist.

“It’s all about making it harder to vote because when turnout is low,
the politicians in control are more likely to win,” said Sam Wercinski,
executive director of the Arizona Advocacy Network. “When turnout is
high, other people get elected.”

Wercinski says it’s ridiculous to think that wholesale groups of
immigrants who are here illegally are plotting to vote in our elections.
Instead, he says, Prop. 200 has affected thousands of citizens,
primarily college students who don’t have acceptable identification
under Prop. 200 when they go to register and so use the federal form.

Under Horne’s ruling, they’ll be voting only in the federal election
unless they find that birth certificate or passport or other sort of
document to prove to county elections officials that they’re citizens.

Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osborne says the ruling will
affect only about 900 voters in Maricopa County. Wercinski, however,
says it goes beyond those 900 because it’ll promote confusion which will
reduce turnout at the polls next year and over time it’ll block
thousands of voters from having a say in this state’s affairs.

* * *

Me? I’m just astonished that Arizona has managed to score another first: the first in the nation to create two kinds of voters.

You know, separate but equal?

When will Arizona free itself from the anti-immigrant hysteria fostered by the axis of Kris Kobach and Russell Pearce, and their acolytes in the Tea-Publican Party?

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AZ BlueMeanie
The Blue Meanie is an Arizona citizen who wishes, for professional reasons, to remain anonymous when blogging about politics. Armed with a deep knowledge of the law, politics and public policy, as well as pen filled with all the colors stolen from Pepperland, the Blue Meanie’s mission is to pursue and prosecute the hypocrites, liars, and fools of politics and the media – which, in practical terms, is nearly all of them. Don’t even try to unmask him or he’ll seal you in a music-proof bubble and rendition you to Pepperland for a good face-stomping. Read blog posts by the infamous and prolific AZ Blue Meanie here.


  1. The article suggests it is being applied prospectively from the date of the AG Opinion, but I suspect some county recorders would apply it to their lists of voters whenever registered. This is going to court.

  2. I like how both the articles– the one about the Kansas two-tiered voting and the Arizona two-tiered voting– minimize the manpower and financial cost to the counties of double the number of ballot types and dual voting records.

    Worldwide, I think the US is the only Banana Republic that allows such wide variance in who is allowed to vote, when they vote, how they register, where they vote, etc. Most countries have independent voting oversight and, I believe, NO ONE allows political parties to draw redistricting lines.

    I was thinking that Ohio’s 8th District (John Boehner’s) should get it together to run a viable candidate against that obstructionist moron. Then, I found this story that says Boehner was personally involved in drawing Ohio’s new districts after the 2010. Surprise, surprise, the vast majority of Ohio’s districts are gerrymandered to be Republican– even though Ohio elected Sherrod Brown to the Senate and Barack Obama to the presidency.

    We’re going to see more voter suppression tinkering by Republicans in the coming year, since no one in their right mind would vote for these Neo-Confederates now.

  3. This law could be really handy for Secretary of State Ken Bennett’s run for AZ governor.

    Can you spell conflict of interest?

  4. Does this ruling mean that everyone who has ever registered to vote in AZ in the past must now reregister or does it only apply to those who registered since the AZ law went into effect?

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