By Roxana Hegeman, Associated Press
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal elections official has decided — without public notice or review from his agency’s commissioners — that residents of Alabama, Kansas and Georgia can no longer register to vote using a federal form without providing proof of U.S. citizenship.
The action by the new executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission is being roundly criticized by voting rights activists, who say the “secretive move” will create additional barriers for potential voters, and one of the agency’s own commissioners, who says it contradicts policy and precedent.
The new instructions were posted on the agency’s website, according to EAC’s executive director Brian Newby, who sent letters dated Jan. 29 to the three states that had requested the change. Under the new rule, any resident in those states who registers to vote using the federal form must show citizenship documentation — such as a birth certificate, naturalization papers or passport. In other states, no such documentation is needed to register; voters need only sign a sworn statement.
The changes took effect immediately, Newby said, adding that any interested party could request a review from the commission, which is appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
That review may very well happen. EAC Commissioner Thomas Hicks, told The Associated Press that he’s weighing his options so that the commissioners can address the issue. The Democrat posted a blistering statement on the agency’s website this week, and said Thursday that Newby’s action…