Archive for Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Kansas House revives Kobach voter-citizenship plan

May 8, 2012, 9:47 a.m. Updated May 8, 2012, 6:09 p.m.


— Secretary of State Kris Kobach's allies Tuesday revived the conservative Republican's proposal to require first-time voters to prove their U.S. citizenship starting next month, but a vote in the state House advancing his bill sent mixed signals about its chances for passage.

The House gave the measure first-round approval on a 67-53 vote, suggesting supporters have enough votes to pass the legislation on final action, scheduled for Wednesday. The bill would go next to the Senate, where an earlier version of Kobach's proposal is stuck in committee.

Kansas already has a requirement that people registering to vote for the first time in the state provide a birth certificate or other proof of citizenship to elections officials, but the rule doesn't take effect until Jan. 1, 2013. Kobach wants to move the effective date to June 15, in time for a normal wave of registrations before a presidential election.

Kobach contends the rule will prevent election fraud by ensuring that illegal immigrants and other non-citizens don't register to vote. His office found 32 non-citizens registered last year; he believes that is a fraction of the actual total, though there are no firm figures.

Kansas has about 1.7 million registered voters, and fewer than 10 cases were reported over the past decade of non-citizens voting or attempting to vote. Critics suggest a proof-of-citizenship rule is unnecessary and will suppress voter turnout, particularly among poor, minority, elderly and college-student voters.

Kobach and his supporters hope the Senate will take an up-or-down vote on the latest version of his proposal, rather than routing it through committee. Kobach said he believes a majority of senators are willing now to do it after talking to him and his staff.

"The debate over whether to have proof-of-citizenship has been resolved," Kobach told The Associated Press. "Now is the question, do we do it when it makes the most sense?"

But Tuesday's House vote was less decisive in Kobach's favor than the 81-43 vote in February on the earlier version of his proposal.

House Elections Committee Scott Schwab, a conservative Olathe Republican and Kobach ally, said some lawmakers are getting nervous about county elections officials being able to adjust to the change and the state being able to educate voters in just five weeks.

"We're getting close to that June 15 deadline," Schwab said. "That's a legitimate argument."

Kobach has said repeatedly that he has a $300,000 voter education campaign ready the moment the change takes effect, and he's confident that it won't create administrative problems.

But it's not just potential administrative headaches that are a question for critics.

Rep. Ann Mah, a Topeka Democrat, a vocal critic of Kobach's proposal, said the change is likely to invite a costly federal voting-rights lawsuit. She accused Kobach's allies of pushing a new version of his proposal in hopes of forcing senators to vote on it — and creating a campaign issue against those opposing it.

"Putting this before them and forcing them to vote on it gives them one more chance to look like the heroes and the adults in the room," Mah said.


Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 10 months ago

Most of the first time voters will be those who are coming of age. How many have birth certificates and will remember to bring it with them when they vote? How many will go home and retrieve it and go back to the voting place? As much as we want to vote, we do have a life and I can see people being defeated by this.

gphawk89 5 years, 10 months ago

I think the idea is to use your birth certificate to register to vote BEFORE election day, not bring it with you on the day you vote. How many have birth certificates? Everyone should have one, right?

Orwell 5 years, 10 months ago

The state makes pretty good money charging people for certified copies –multiple copies, multiple charges. It's just another flavor of voter suppression, from those great Republican patriots who are so afraid of fair elections they try to stack the deck at every opportunity.

How much time has the legislature spent on this and gerry… er, redistricting… this session? Throw the rascals out, and let's get some public servants more interested in doing their jobs than in keeping their jobs.

Mike1949 5 years, 10 months ago

If we already have laws on the books dealing with this, what is the problem? If only 32 incidents happened, not sure that is a problem. The republicans stuff the ballet box millions of times more than that, is that really what they want to do?

John Hamm 5 years, 10 months ago

Oh you Liberals! Posters not legislators. You show an unbelievable lack of concern for fraudulent voting among other things.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 10 months ago

Probally many of the liberals worried about not protecting the vote are on welfare anyway. If you are already cheating the system, then of course they don't want it to change.

There is nothing wrong with positioning yourself where you can answer all the questions. The includes providing the same verification for voting that you use to get onto welfare, unemployment, or any of the other vast entitlement programs.

JayhawksandHerd 5 years, 10 months ago

But they're not curing cancer or ending world hunger. Instead, they're wasting time and money on a non-issue.

kuguardgrl13 5 years, 10 months ago


And I doubt they would do anything for world hunger. That would mean welfare. Welfare is EVIL.

BigAl 5 years, 10 months ago

Don't waste your time trying to explain anything to the far-right in Kansas. The names Kobach and Brownback immediately make them jump into lock-step and not question anything they do or say.

usnsnp 5 years, 10 months ago

Find it strange, if there is so much voter fraude in Kansas it must be on the Republican side, they control the stste government. Of course there are people that believe if anybody votes for the democrat it must be a fradulant vote. Where is all the legislation about jobs,

StirrrThePot 5 years, 10 months ago

I'm so glad our elected officials are focused on what's most important. Not jobs, education, a balanced budget, but....



ZOMG, they're getting. It. DONE!!

(*they care about babies...until they're born that is)

kuguardgrl13 5 years, 10 months ago

Let me lay this out for you. We are PRO-CHOICE. There is no such thing as pro-abortion. We don't want all babies to be aborted. Pro-choicers want women to be able to make their own informed decisions about what to do with their bodies. The pro-life movement that you so readily support is also against things like the death penalty. Learn your platforms before you make misguided assumptions.

oldvet 5 years, 10 months ago

" We are pro-choice. There is no such thing as pro-abortion."

But the alternative choice you offer is an abortion, thus you are "pro-abortion".

"The pro-life movement that you so readily support is also against things like the death penalty."

So the pro-choice-abortion crowd is also a pro-death-penalty crowd. That would consistent... kill the innocent and the guilty!

BigAl 5 years, 10 months ago

I, for one, have NO problem proving who I am when I vote. What I object to is the farce brought forth by Kobach that voter fraud was a huge problem in Kansas. It isn't. He got elected on this issue and now he is spending money that we don't have on it. Once again people, VOTER FRAUD IS NOT AN ISSUE IN KANSAS!

I agree with you. Instead of spending valuable time and resources on a non-issue, why aren't these republicans working on real issues like "double jeopardy personal property tax."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.