Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state with a long history of pushing a stridently conservative agenda on voting rights and immigration, is back in the news again -- this time, for the actions of one of his former underlings.
Late last month, Kobach was granted permission by the newly-appointed executive director of a federal voting commission to require proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. The decision -- issued unilaterally by Brian Newby, who previously worked under Kobach as an elections official in Kansas' largest county -- was a major surprise that was done without the say of the members of the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC), which had rejected Kobach's request for the change twice before.
The revised EAC guidance represented a major win for Kobach, who had been stymied by the courts in his efforts to fully implement his state's proof-of-citizenship requirement. It is a blow to voting rights advocates who have opposed proof of citizenship requirements on the grounds that procuring the necessary documents will make ballot access harder people who are perfectly eligible to vote.
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