Archive for Sunday, April 24, 2011

Kansas law requiring proof of citizenship may be costly in more ways than one

April 24, 2011


— Voting rights advocates say that Kansas’ new law that requires a photo ID to cast a ballot is bad enough, but what’s worse is its requirement that to register to vote a person, must prove U.S. citizenship.

“That part is actually far more troubling,” said Ernestine Krehbiel, president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas.

The days of voter registration drives at picnics, nursing homes, grocery stores, county fairs and the Kansas State Fair may be near an end, she said.

That’s because, effective Jan. 1, 2013, state law will require voter registration applicant to provide satisfactory evidence of U.S. citizenship. The provision applies only to new voter registration applications in Kansas.

Focus on birth certificate

Currently, when registering to vote, a person signs a statement swearing or affirming that he or she is a U.S. citizen. Submitting a false voter registration application is punishable by up to 17 months in prison.

There are several ways to prove citizenship, but the most common document that will be used under the new law will be a birth certificate, which can either be presented in person at the time of registration, or a photocopy of the document that can be mailed in with the registration application.

But Krehbiel said that in this day of identity theft, people are rightly wary about sharing personal and documented information with a stranger.

“If you showed up at my booth at the fair, you would be quite foolish to allow me to photocopy your birth certificate,” she said.

In addition, she noted, getting a copy of a birth certificate costs money. A copy of a Kansas birth certificate costs $15. Some elderly people don’t have birth certificates, and many women will have to provide further documentation if they have taken their husbands’ last name.

To get a copy of a Kansas marriage certificate costs another $15.

“I think it will be particularly hard on the indigent, disabled and elderly who do not already have driver’s licenses or birth certificates sitting around their house,” Krehbiel said.

Shew gearing up

Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew said the proof of citizenship requirement will make voter registration more difficult.

“It’s going to require a lot more staff involvement,” Shew said.

He agreed with Krehbiel that no one will be collecting birth certificates at voter registration drives.

He said his office will try to reach out to those who submit voter registration applications and contact them somehow to educate them on how to get a birth certificate and then get that record to the county election office to finalize the registration process.

“I want to make sure for us, that we have a system that helps remove barriers,” he said.

Voter registration drives are important in Douglas County, especially at Kansas University. Shew said in a presidential year, thousands of students register to vote during registration drives.

But educating the public about the new law and helping people register to vote will cost money, Shew said. He said he is putting together a budget and proposing mailers that will cost tens of thousands of dollars.

He said he was glad the Legislature delayed the birth certificate requirement until 2013 because that would give officials time to implement the voter ID requirement and deal with a presidential election.

Brownback’s opinion

Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who pushed for the new law, said he will continue trying to get the Legislature to put the proof of citizenship requirement in the law in 2012.

Both he and Gov. Sam Brownback have said the voter ID and proof of citizenship provision are key to preventing election fraud.

“For those who are lawful citizens of Kansas, this bill will not create obstacles to casting a ballot — not at all,” Brownback said when signing the bill into law last week. “I think these are reasonable steps to protect the rights of our citizens. Protecting the integrity of elections is a core piece of a working democracy.”

Krehbiel said rules were already in place to combat election fraud and that the new law will simply make it tougher to register to vote.

“All of those registration drives will have to dry up,” Krehbiel said. “Some people are saying that is the motivation behind these laws. I don’t know.”


keepintime 2 years, 6 months ago

Smokescreens. Voter fraud isn't a problem. Election fraud is THE problem. Some of us have not and will not forget Florida's "hanging chads" and "confused" voters of 2000, or Ohio's mysterious failure to count entire blocks of votes in 2004. Want a fair election? Find some honest people to operate the polls on election day. Problem solved.


camper 2 years, 12 months ago

I still do not know if it is even possible to get a copy of your "long form" birth certificate. What you get, as I found out when I needed one for my passport, is a "certification of live birth". This is the document President Obama produced, and will find out this is what the birthers are questioning the authenticity of. Oh geeze


strongarmcrunch 2 years, 12 months ago

YEPPERS! The GOP massive spending is coming again to a state house near you.


kansanbygrace 2 years, 12 months ago

I have never been required to show a birth certificate or the like to apply for a job.
On the other hand, the registration process is so highly regarded that your voter registration, delivered to your home address by the USPS is a legal document to reenter the country from Mexico or Canada, but your photo driver's license is not. It's not broken and it doesn't need to be fixed. But Kris has his own agenda, and our opinion and our state's needs don't really count to him.


Majestic42 2 years, 12 months ago

Extremely weak arguments. The real reason is that they want the illegal immigrants to still be able to vote.


Kontum1972 2 years, 12 months ago

Rumor has it that Adolph Kobach is planning to tattoo barcode all the citizens of the State....thats his "final solution"


optimist 2 years, 12 months ago

This documentation is necessary to gain employment in the United States. This law poses no bon-a-fide obstacle to voting and the argument that it is a de-facto poll tax is just plain dumb. These are documents that everyone should already have. Anyone here to proclaim that voting is a fundamentally important aspect of being a United States Citizen should be in favor of protecting it from fraud. If every vote counts then it is vitally important that not a single vote cast illegally be counted. What many of us forget is that like all unalienable rights and all privileges provided for in the Constitution it is the duty and responsibility of each American to preserve and protect these rights and privileges for generations to come.


akt2 2 years, 12 months ago

I'd think a person would be proud to be able to show their US citizenship if they had to. Mountains out of molehills. Just be happy that you are a US citizen, and if that's not the case get out. Maybe find a nice dual citizenship somewhere else. But wait, you will probably need your birth certificate.


Randall Uhrich 2 years, 12 months ago

This is what's known as an "Unfunded Mandate", with the agencies involved somehow to scrape up the funds to implement it, during a period of budget shortages. That in itself should make it unconstitutional, besides being a really stupid measure, aimed at disenfranchising minority voters. Kobach needs to shove it.


Kirk Larson 2 years, 12 months ago

So we now effectively have a $15 to $30 poll tax for new Kansas voters.


situveux1 2 years, 12 months ago

It passed. Get over it Scott.


Bob_Keeshan 2 years, 12 months ago

Big deal. Kansas already has enough voters. Don't need any new ones.


Jackie Jackasserson 2 years, 12 months ago

What an interesting way to decrease the number of married couples.


Scott Morgan 2 years, 12 months ago

Very weak arguments. How far have we fallen when individuals must think voting is some sort of surprise.

Good grief.

Hey Erma member when we were talking about all those political ads running on the Zenith T.V.? I betcha nickles to pennys they want us to do something.

What's that Ed?

Hey Erma, I betcha they tally up them thar marks somehow, tarnation! Well after 60 years, that's what all the goings on is about. They want our marks. Gee whips, what do we do now?


BigPrune 2 years, 12 months ago

Hey Shew! Why don't you put the notices in with the water bill? After all, the library boondoggle vote was promoted by the City of Lawrence this way to sway the election in their favor.


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