Archive for Friday, March 16, 2012

Senate won’t vote on Kobach citizenship rule

March 16, 2012, 10:23 a.m. Updated March 16, 2012, 11:39 a.m.


— A key state senator is blocking a committee vote on Secretary of State Kris Kobach's legislation to require new Kansas voters to prove their U.S. citizenship ahead of this year's presidential election, possibly dooming the measure.

Chairwoman Terrie Huntington said Friday that she doesn't plan to have her Senate Ethics and Elections Committee meet again this year. The committee had a hearing on Kobach's bill Thursday, its last scheduled meeting of the year, but adjourned without acting on the measure.

"The committee, it's not their choice to meet again," Huntington said. "We are through."

Legislators enacted a law last year requiring people registering to vote for the first time in Kansas to provide proof of their citizenship, but it doesn't take effect until January. Kobach wants to move up the effective date to June 15, arguing it should be in place ahead of the surge in registration that will precede the November presidential election.

Kobach's bill passed the House last month, but even some of his fellow Republicans in the Senate have been cool to the proposal. He contends it will prevent illegal immigrants and other non-citizens from registering, combatting election fraud.

Critics of voter ID laws say they are meant to keep turnout down, particularly among students, minorities, the poor and the elderly. Kobach's office said it found 32 non-citizens registered to vote in Kansas last year, out of about 1.7 million registered voters. There have been fewer than 10 reported cases in Kansas over the past decade in which a non-citizen voted or attempted to vote.

Kobach didn't immediately respond to a cellphone message Friday seeking comment, but he's said the committee could easily meet again, even if it convened in a hallway, as committees occasionally do when lawmakers' schedules are hectic.

His conservative GOP allies also could ask the Senate to pull the bill from Huntington's committee, but that would require a vote of 24 of 40 members, rather than the 21 votes needed to pass a bill. Together, moderate Republicans and Democrats, who generally are skeptical of Kobach's proposal, control the chamber.

Kobach has expressed frustration as a $40 million computer upgrade at the state Division of Vehicles has become a crucial issue for senators wary of his proposal. He has said it shouldn't be an issue, arguing that the state could move forward regardless, even if the upgrade would make administering the proof-of-citizenship rule easier.

Kansas will require all people seeking or renewing a license to show whether they're U.S. citizens. When the second phase of the upgrade is done, the division is supposed to be able to automatically transfer electronic copies of birth certificates and other documents proving citizenship to election officials.

Initially, officials said the second phase of the upgrade should be done by June, but the committee learned Wednesday — at its second-to-last meeting of the year — that it wouldn't be completed until Aug. 1.

"That was the big issue," Huntington said. "We waited until the last minute, until we could find out the latest information regarding the computer system."

Kobach came to Thursday's meeting with proposed amendments to his bill that he said would make the computer upgrade's status irrelevant. But testimony from opponents of his bill took up most of the committee's hour-long meeting, preventing members from considering the changes.


Fred Whitehead Jr. 5 years, 8 months ago

Is there anyone left alive that is not completely convinced that the only goal of the idiot who was elected Secretary of State in Kansas is to prevent anyone who might vote for President Obama this November from doing so??? His baldface attempts to restrict voting rights to anyone who might oppose his facist Republican cronies are clear, apparent and visible.

Maddy Griffin 5 years, 8 months ago

Agreed!! Students, the poor,minorities and the elderly...pretty much sounds like the Deomocratic base to me.

tomatogrower 5 years, 8 months ago

Oh, oh. Now she will be on the Koch and Chamber of Commerce hit list.

JackMcKee 5 years, 8 months ago

does Kobach even have any leadership in his own party? It seems like they're just putting up with him.

Orwell 5 years, 8 months ago

If the Senate had any principles they'd bring this to the floor and vote it down. We really should have a chance to know which Senators are so blatantly anti-democracy as to support Kobach's transparent agenda.

I guess doing the right thing through inaction is next-best.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 8 months ago

Nah, the law is already passed and will go into effect next year. This is an election year and doing this saves their butts. What you really need is a list of who voted for the original law.

somedude20 5 years, 8 months ago

So... we know religion has cost us humans, at a minimum, 809 million people. For what? To protect us from something that hasn't even proven exists?

Not taking a jab at you, just pointing out that this train of thought seems to be they way humans work

Graczyk 5 years, 8 months ago

It's worse than that. We are spending 40 million dollars to protect us from 10 reported instances over the past decade of a non-citizen attempting to vote, and only 32 improper registrations about of 1.7 million voters. These figures are tantamount to proving there isn't a problem at all.

"Kobach's office said it found 32 non-citizens registered to vote in Kansas last year, out of about 1.7 million registered voters. There have been fewer than 10 reported cases in Kansas over the past decade in which a non-citizen voted or attempted to vote."

jhawkinsf 5 years, 8 months ago

No matter how small? Yet I can't yell fire in a crowded movie. I can't marry two women, even if I'm Mormon. I can't sacrifice a goat, even if my ancestors did it for religious reasons.
I believe the operative word when one discusses infringements of one's rights is "reasonable", as in is the infringement reasonable? So the question at hand, one for the courts to rule on, is are the requirements for proof of I.D. when voting "reasonable".

Anne Bracker 5 years, 8 months ago

Kansas congressional voting records on HB 2067, the voter ID bill that is now law, can be found here:

It includes a list of the yeas and nays for the votes, the full language of the bill, sponsors, and amendments.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 8 months ago

Republicans cost Kansas too much money....

GUMnNUTS 5 years, 8 months ago

If you poop the bed, you end up with a Brownback.

Calijhawk 5 years, 8 months ago

Yes, voting is our most important right. It is special to Americans because only Americans can do it in an American election. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to expect those who exercise the right to provide proof, or at least reasonable evidence, that they are eligible to do so. Only those who would benefit, or who already are benefiting, from fraudulent voting would be opposed to this line of reasoning.

Notice who they are....

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