The Election Assistance Commission Is Engaging In Voter Suppression

Excerpt from: CREDO Action

Stop the disenfranchisement of African-American and Latino voters.

The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is supposed to make it easier for Americans to register to vote, but in a stunning recent move it did just the opposite by allowing election officials in Kansas, Georgia and Alabama to use voter registration forms that require proof of citizenship.

Without holding public hearings, accepting public comments or even consulting the members of the commission, the EAC’s Executive Director Brian Newby quietly implemented this change in a blatant attempt to make it harder for African-Americans and Latinos to vote.

This backdoor attempt to suppress votes directly contradicts the EAC’s purpose. EAC Inspector General Patricia Layfield is tasked with detecting and preventing abuse and mismanagement of EAC programs2 – but she hasn’t yet publicly announced an investigation into Brian Newby’s nefarious voter suppression scheme.

As we’ve seen with the proliferation of photo ID laws in Republican-controlled states, African-Americans and Latinos are less likely to have a state-issued form of identification. A recent study showed that laws requiring photo identification disproportionately disenfranchises those communities.3 Requiring proof of citizenship up front, when individuals attempt to register to vote, is just the latest in a long history of Republican attempts to skew the electorate in their favor by disenfranchising communities that tend to support Democrats.

Newby’s attempt to make it harder to register to vote isn’t just a direct contradiction of the EAC’s mission, it is also quite likely a violation of the National Voter Registration Law, which seeks to make registering to vote as easy as possible.

In February, a coalition of groups including the Georgia NAACP and the League of Women Voters filed a lawsuit challenging Newby’s action. As Georgia NAACP President Francys Johnson said at the time, “this case is illustrious of the insidious tricks, subterfuge, and attacks eviscerating the gains achieved under the Voting Rights Act and the National Voter Registration Act.”4 Attorneys at the Department of Justice seem to agree. In a court filing, they wrote that Newby’s decision was “not consistent with the statute” and “contrary to governing law.”5

EAC Executive Director Newby’s recent move to suppress African-American and Latino votes should come as no surprise. He has deep ties to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, one of the nation’s most prominent vote suppressors. And emails obtained recently by the Associated Press have now shown that Kobach helped Newby get his job at the EAC in the first place.6

As we’ve seen in state after state – including most recently in Arizona where the Department of Justice is now investigating voter disenfranchisement in the state’s March 22 primary – the federal government is our last line of defense to stop local Republican elected officials from suppressing votes and stealing elections. We can’t afford to let the federal Election Assistance Commission undermine its own mission by rubber stamping this blatant attempt to make it harder to vote in three Republican-controlled states.

Sign the petition below: Investigate the Election Assistance Commission’s attempt to suppress Latino votes.

  •  “Launch an immediate investigation into Election Assistance Commission Executive Director Brian Newby’s unilateral decision to allow Kansas, Alabama and Georgia to require proof of citizenship to register to vote. Making it harder to register to vote directly contradicts the mission of the EAC.”
  • Go to CREDO Action to sign the petition.

Thanks for fighting voter suppression.

Josh Nelson, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

1. “Want to vote in this state? You have to have a passport or dig up a birth certificate,” Washington Post, February 19, 2016.
2. “Office of Inspector General,” Election Assistance Commission
3. “More Research Shows Voter ID Laws Hurt Minorities,” CityLab, February 26, 2016.
4. “Proof of Citizenship Action Illegal, Federal Suit Says,” Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. February 12, 2016.
5. “Department of Justice disowns EAC director’s move on proof of citizenship for voters,” February 22, 2016.
6. “Docs Show Ties Between Kobach, Fed. Official Who Approved Voter Proof Of Citizenship Requirement,” Talking Points Memo, April 1, 2016.

© 2016 CREDO. All rights reserved.


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