Archive for Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kansas House passes citizenship bill; Senate divided

February 23, 2012


— Republicans pushed a bill through the Kansas House Thursday requiring potential voters to prove their U.S. citizenship ahead of this year's election, although GOP senators are divided on whether the state will be ready to enforce the rule.

The House approved the bill, 81-43, with all of the votes for it coming from Republicans. It would impose the proof-of-citizenship requirement for people registering to vote for the first time in Kansas starting June 15, more than six months ahead of schedule and in time for the normal surge before a presidential election.

Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who introduced the bill, says the rule combats election fraud, but critics believe it will suppress turnout among poor, minority and elderly voters.

Legislators approved a proof-of-citizenship rule last year but — at the Senate's insistence — it's not scheduled to take effect until Jan. 1, 2013. The Senate has a large GOP majority, but its leaders are less conservative than Kobach and his allies and hesitated to move too quickly to impose the requirement.

Top Republican senators said a key issue for them remains a $40 million upgrade of the state Division of Vehicles computer system that handles driver's licenses. The project will allow the division to store electronic copies of birth certificates and other documents proving a driver's citizenship and transfer them to election officials as needed.

Officials in the Department of Revenue, which oversees the division, have said repeatedly that they think the system will be ready by June. But GOP leaders in the Senate want a guarantee, and Ethics and Elections Committee Chairwoman Terrie Huntington, of Fairway, said she'll probably delay action on Kobach's bill for several weeks to get such assurances.

"It really all centers around the ability of the Department of Revenue to have the motor-vehicle computer system working," Huntington said. "They're thinking that it might be, but they cannot guarantee that it will."

Kobach has been frustrated by the focus on the Division of Vehicles computer project, arguing repeatedly that it's not necessary for it to be finished to move ahead with a proof-of-citizenship requirement. He's said it will prevent illegal immigrants and other non-citizens from registering to vote, and it makes sense to have the rule in place ahead of the busiest registration period between presidential elections.

His office said it identified 32 non-citizens on Kansas voter rolls last year. Critics note Kansas has about 1.7 million registered voters and that reported cases of illegal immigrants voting remain rare.

Some GOP senators have no problem with moving up the date of the proof-of-citizenship rule. Sen. Dick Kelsey, a Goddard Republican, said he's confident that Kansans who will need free birth certificates to prove their citizenship will be able to get them to register, as state law currently provides.

But the Division of Vehicles' computer upgrade is an important issue for other Republicans because they believe its completion will simplify voter registration.

Part of the division's project is a response to a federal law pushing states to verify that residents are living in the U.S. legally before issuing them driver's licenses. Kansas already requires proof of legal status when it issues a new license, but with the computer upgrade, the same proof will be required the next time anyone in Kansas renews a license.

By 2019, every Kansas license is supposed to indicate whether someone is a citizen and the Division of Vehicles must store the supporting documents electronically. Then, a Kansas driver's license will be one of 13 documents that proves citizenship.

Department of Revenue spokeswoman Jeanine Koranda said June 15 remains a reasonable date for completion of the computer upgrade. But she called the project "massive" and acknowledged, "Delays are possible."


CLARKKENT 5 years, 9 months ago


patkindle 5 years, 9 months ago

i guess illegals should be able to vote drive a car, (without insurance) get free health care, and education,, just like everyone else but dont have to pay taxes

after all this is america thats why they snuck over here

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 9 months ago

Actually, a lot of illegals pay income and SS taxes under false SS numbers they will never see or be allowed to see a penny of. To a certain extent the government actually depends on this "free money". As for illegals "voting", give me one verified and documented case of that ever happening in this state. Put down the KoolAid and start thinking for yourself. Or is that just way too hard?

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 9 months ago

Then you should be happy that the Obama administration has deported more illegal aliens in three years than what were deported in the entire eight years of the GWB administration. I suggest you look it up.

Linda Endicott 5 years, 9 months ago

East Germany had a sealed border... Do you want one like that?

Mike1949 5 years, 9 months ago

Why are people worried about illegals. Isn't it the employers we need to incarcerate? If there isn't any jobs for them, they won't come.

That was how it was down in western Kansas at the beef plants. I know, I worked with them!

Katara 5 years, 9 months ago

Actually, one does not have to steal an ID or SSN to pay into the system.

One only have to obtain a ITIN (individual taxpayer identification number). You don't have to be a citizen to get one. This is what many do.

Katara 5 years, 9 months ago

You'll have to show some proof for that.

They don't qualify for the EITC with an ITIN.

patkindle 5 years, 9 months ago

cait, i hope one of them doesnt t-bone you , and have thier translator explain what no insurance means

bad_dog 5 years, 9 months ago

While I wouldn't want to be anyone, I won't need a translator to explain why my auto policy has uninsured motorist coverage.

Kind of funny that the only time I was in an accident with an uninsured driver, it involved an American woman. At least I believe she was an American despite her lack of financial responsibility-didn't ask to see her papers. Must have been the light skin and absence of an accent...

Greg Cooper 5 years, 9 months ago

The fear-mongering going on in Kansas is overwhelming. OK, the state alleges a miniscule number of "non-citizens" voted. Of those, how many votes were counted? Of those counted, how did they affect the election? Give me a break, Kansas legislature.

Where are the jobs programs promised by Brownback? Where is the proof that the lower-earning folks are better off than pre-Brownback? Where are the missing, misappropriated education funds mandated by the Constitution? Where are the programs that will safeguard the disabled?

What we got was lies in the campaign, what we have now is a corporate welfare state, and the socially-engineered state that the ultra-right craves.

This is beyond politics. This is simply the steamrolling of an entire state for the purpose of ensuring big business profitability on the backs of those who can least afford it, and the forcing of a pseudo-Christion ethos on each and every citizen of the state. This is racism dressed as patriotism, as nationalism, and a moral imperative based on nothing but the empowerment of the monied and powerful.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 9 months ago

Let's see, if the number of non-citizens that have voted is miniscule, as you say, and you wonder how many of those votes were counted and how many of those votes had any effect on the outcome of an election. Hmmm, if the number is as little as one such vote, that is the exact same number of votes I have, or you have. Is your vote important? Is my vote important? Is that one vote that was cast illegally?
If my vote is important, then so is your vote and so is that one illegal vote. If the illegal vote is unimportant, then so is your vote and so is my vote. I'd be careful in labeling the illegal vote as unimportant, since that could be used as justification of denying you, or me, our right to vote. So let's label them all as important, my vote, your vote and that illegally cast vote. Each and every one of them is important.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

But if there is no voter fraud, and the real effect of these laws is to prevent qualified voters from casting a vote, then your long-winded rationalization is pure hogwash.

Hence, I call BS on your worries about the integrity of elections.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 9 months ago

The problem with your argument is that is makes two assumptions. The first assumption is that there is zero voter fraud. My "rationalization", while you may disagree with it, made an assumption of extremely low voter fraud. Do you really believe there has been zero voter fraud, and if so, do you believe there will never be any voter fraud? The second assumption you make is that the effect will prevent eligible voters from voting. I agree with you that there may be some of that, the question is does it rise to the level of being unreasonable? Requiring a person to register to vote is an obstacle, but is it a reasonable obstacle? Polling hours, especially on a working day might be an obstacle, but is it reasonable? There are a myriad of possible obstacles, but they can still be allowed if a court rules them to be reasonable. That's what we have courts for, to rule on issues such as this. And I'm less concerned with the integrity of elections, as I believe that the person who deserves to win, does indeed win elections. My concerns are far different than this topic and are best discussed at a different time, in a different thread.

parrothead8 5 years, 9 months ago

This bill does nothing to solve the biggest problems facing Kansas at the present moment, or during the last several years. Good work, legislators. Way to stay focused and on task, looking out for the best interests of your constituents.

Jan Rolls 5 years, 9 months ago

All of you idiots that agree with this know it is not about illegal voters and know it is racially inspired just like in all the other states passing this junk. Watch starting March 7th and you will see a flurry of lawsuits so tell sam to get his money out to defend it. You people are pitiful.

Linda and Bill Houghton 5 years, 9 months ago

Being a retired mainframe computer programmer, I can understand completely why they won't guarantee that a computer program (system) will be ready at the specified date. The more complex the system is the more likely that something will go wrong and delay implementation. The programmers write the code and test it to the best of their abilities. It is then turned over to the people that designed the system and they order or do the testing that they think will prove that it works.

When the testing is done, the system is implemented. Particularly with complex systems the implementation rarely goes smoothly. There were two implementations that stick in my mind, both on parts of a system where I was part of the implementation team. In one part of the overall system they implemented the upgrade in the window of oportunity (this was a system that had a monthly and a yearly cycle (payroll for a major, multi-location aerospace company)). This system was thought to be well tested, but the results using massive amounts of current data showed that there were things that they had not anticipated and we had to back out the changes for a month or two before we could re-implement successfully.

The other was the first yearly cycle. They implemented and re-implented all January and part of February before they could get the year-end data to work right. Then they were able to go forward on the new year's data and correct the data that had been created erroneously. Everybody got their weekly paycheck, the necessary records, such as W-2 data had to be cleaned up.

The head of the state revenue system obviously has been around long enough to know better than to commit to a short deadline if missing the deadline will cause a disaster.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

"He's said it will prevent illegal immigrants and other non-citizens from registering to vote, "

We also need a companion law that will guarantee that non-citizens don't tear off their mattress tags.

downriverdan 5 years, 9 months ago

His office said it identified 32 non-citizens on Kansas voter rolls last year. Critics note Kansas has about 1.7 million registered voters and that reported cases of illegal immigrants voting remain rare.

If Kobach's office has identified 32 non-citizens on the Kansas voter rolls last year when is he going to do his job and prosecute them?

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