Topeka A committee Wednesday recommended approval of a bill that would require proof of U.S. citizenship for new voter registrations starting June 15 instead of Jan. 1, 2013, which was the date approved by legislators last year as part of the new voter ID law.
Republicans on the House Elections Committee pushed the bill, sought by Secretary of State Kris Kobach, to the full House for consideration, while Democrats opposed it.
State Rep. Ann Mah, D-Topeka, said accelerating the date for proof of citizenship would prevent many from being able to vote. She noted the closing date to register to vote would be four weeks before the August primaries, and she predicted many women would have difficulty registering because their married names are different from the names on their birth certificates, which can be used to prove citizenship.
“We’re going to have a lot of people in trouble trying to register to vote,” Mah said, predicting that if the bill takes effect, it will be struck down in court.
But state Rep. TerriLois Gregory, R-Baldwin City, said women shouldn’t have trouble with the legislation.
Gregory said that after her divorce she carried her divorce paperwork for three years.
“It was not difficult for me at all to prove my name change,” Gregory said. She said the bill expects “people to have personal responsibility.”
Kobach said the bill was needed to ensure that no illegal immigrants were registering to vote in the 2012 elections. Voting rights advocates said Kansas election officials were not ready to handle the new requirements on top of requirements approved last year that will force voters to show photo ID at the polls.
Earlier, the committee held a hearing on House Bill 2224, which was introduced last year by state Rep. Connie O’Brien, R-Tonganoxie. The bill would require any candidate for national or state office to prove U.S. citizenship with a certified copy of a birth certificate, driver’s license or other government-issued identification. The secretary of state’s office testified in favor of the bill. The committee took no immediate action on that measure.