Archive for Tuesday, August 13, 2013

ACLU notifies Kobach of intention to file voting rights lawsuit

August 13, 2013


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ACLU letter to Kobach ( .PDF )

— The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday notified Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach that it will file a lawsuit in 90 days if the state doesn’t address the issue of approximately 14,000 voter registration applications that are in limbo.

“Kansans are simply trying to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “This is the most fundamental freedom we have as Americans, yet Secretary of State Kobach is blocking thousands upon thousands of Kansans from their rightful participation in the political process. This is un-American, unconstitutional and must end immediately.”

The dispute is over thousands of voter registration applications in Kansas since January when a new state law took effect that requires new registrations to include proof of U.S. citizenship with a document such as a birth certificate or passport.

The ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri alleges that Kansas has failed to register thousands of those applicants due to a faulty computer system. These are people who fully complied with all legal requirements when they applied for driver’s licenses and voter registration, the group said.

In all, approximately 14,000 registrations are in “suspense,” meaning that they are not completed. That total represents about one-third of the voter registrations this year, officials said.

Kansas also has defied a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in an Arizona case by continuing to demand documentary proof of citizenship from individuals applying to register with the federal voter registration form, the ACLU said. The federal form does not require documentary proof of citizenship, but instead requires a signed, sworn statement of citizenship.

Kobach, a Republican who pushed for the proof of citizenship law, declined to grant interviews on the ACLU letter.

But in a written statement, Kobach said, “We are reviewing the letter submitted by the ACLU. However, the ACLU and other organizations on the Left have made clear from the start that they oppose proof-of-citizenship requirements for voting and that they will attempt to prevent the State of Kansas from ensuring that only citizens are registered to vote. This letter therefore comes as no surprise.”

Last month, Kobach proposed a rule change that would have allowed people whose registration was in “suspense” to cast a provisional ballot. But that ballot would not be counted unless the necessary proof-of-citizenship documents were provided to election officials prior to the canvassing of the vote after an election.

State officials rejected that proposal, saying that many voters don’t understand what a provisional ballot is.

Kobach has also said he was considering a proposal that would allow those who use the federal form to register to vote to be allowed to vote in federal elections, such as presidential and congressional contests. However, those people would not be allowed to vote in state elections, such as contests for governor, other statewide offices and the Legislature. Voting rights officials have criticized that idea too, saying it would be too confusing.

The ACLU notice letter was sent on behalf of several groups and individuals, including the NAACP Kansas State Conference, the Lawrence and Douglas County League of Women Voters and Equality Kansas Inc., the state’s leading gay rights organization. The 90-day notification before a potential lawsuit could be filed is up Nov. 11.


ksjayhawk74 4 years, 10 months ago

Wow, it's incredibly gracious of Kobach to consider allowing people who registered with the Federal Government to vote for President.

Armstrong 4 years, 10 months ago

Sounds like the ACLU should be going after 3M and the others responsible for the software issue causing these problems not Kobach.

leaningleftist 4 years, 10 months ago

Don't think so, he's responsible for implementing the law. He is knowingly breaking the law.....again. He is scum

short_one 4 years, 10 months ago

Actually, I am pretty sure it is Mr. Kobach's duty to fix the problem. It is not a breach of our civil liberties that 3M makes a software product that does not meet the needs of this system but it IS Mr. Kobach's problem that Kansas has chosen said system to run our DL offices. Therefore, I think that puts the failure of duty square on Mr. Kobach, not 3M. Just my two cents...

Cheryl Nelsen 4 years, 10 months ago

Oh, please. How long does it take to fix computer problems. Kobach is directly responsible. He's in charge of the system he created of having forms sent to his office. When that charade didn't work so well, he started thinking of other things he could do to block voters. I so hope all those in limbo eventually get their voting rights cleared up and they all vote for anyone running against Brownback. May they influence all their relatives and friends as well.

tomatogrower 4 years, 10 months ago

Kobach and the state of Kansas should sue the company, but it's Kobach's job to fix it. That is what he is getting paid for, not writing anti-immigrant legislation for other states.

patkindle 4 years, 10 months ago

the aclu thinks everyone should be able to vote, dead or alive as long as they can spell democrat

leaningleftist 4 years, 10 months ago

And kobach doesn't think anyone should vote if the don't vote republicant

Cheryl Nelsen 4 years, 10 months ago

This is very strange logic. Since when do you have to be a Democrat to be a member of the ACLU? Since never.

tomatogrower 4 years, 10 months ago

I know. They have defended constitutional rights for all kinds of people, left and right, even the Phelps.

question4u 4 years, 10 months ago

"This is un-American, unconstitutional...."

Yes, this is the new Kansas. You can't expect justice or fair elections in a banana republic.

Richard Payton 4 years, 10 months ago

Read that North Carolina was also served a lawsuit by the ACLU for voting issues in that state.

Cheryl Nelsen 4 years, 10 months ago

This voting rights issue that Kansas is struggling with has nothing to do with Obama. I'm glad to see you refer to this as a scandal. It certainly is, and it isn't fake.

leaningleftist 4 years, 10 months ago

Actually federal law does trump federal, doesn't matter who sighs it into law. And another tidbit is the president doesn't make laws. Facts and actuality have funny way of interfering in the Fox News clan

tomatogrower 4 years, 10 months ago

Exactly. They always bring up the constitution, but many of them have no idea what is in the constitution, and how the government is organized.

leaningleftist 4 years, 10 months ago

Well you said our president makes laws, all of you examples have nothing to with what I responded to. Also where was all this pent up animosity when the former president implemented the surveillance program or lying to Americans to get us into Iraq. You just can't pick and chose to be a patriot, but again the uninformed make uninformed comments. You as an adult should be able to say what you mean and not make sideways comments when you are proved wrong

gatekeeper 4 years, 10 months ago

How is it a fake scandal when thousands of voters are being denied the right to vote because Kobach can't get his cr*p together and finalize the registration of the KS citizens? The fact that the repubs in Topeka aren't backing his "fix" shows you how bad this is.

fiddleback 4 years, 10 months ago

And I've got more news for you, Kris: it gets no better from here. Your name is synonymous with bullying and ham-fisted meddling to address problems that scarcely exist, creating nothing but unjust messes in your wake. Hopefully enough people will wise up to the time and money you've wasted that you become unelectable even amongst the GOP faithful, your career options then limited to far-right think tanks and "teaching" at some backwater school about your feeble grasp of just law-making...

Sublimated xenophobia probably takes many sickening forms, but seeing it excreted by a lawyer as conceited as he is untalented has to be one of the worst.

fiddleback 4 years, 10 months ago

And that's among his more tolerable qualities...

rtwngr 4 years, 10 months ago

So is Obama. See, I can do that too. It's easy to call people names. It's a lot harder to debate in the arena of ideas, but keep trying.

Bob Reinsch 4 years, 10 months ago

Anybody take a look at the price of a passport lately?

chootspa 4 years, 10 months ago

Only slightly more expensive than the price of getting all the documentation required to vote and far more likely to be processed correctly.

Seth Peterson 4 years, 10 months ago

Boom! First comment I have wanted to upvote more than once.

Patricia Davis 4 years, 10 months ago

It seems that the real insidious voter fraud is being perpetuated by the Republicans.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 10 months ago

Thousands and thousands of more state tax dollars going to defend useless, unconstitutional laws that "fix" non-existent problems created by fear based politicians.
Haven't the people of Kansas had enough YET? Sheesh!

tomatogrower 4 years, 10 months ago

"Kobach, a Republican who pushed for the proof of citizenship law, did not immediately return a telephone call for comment. In the past, he has said the Kansas proof of citizenship law is constitutional."

First, Kobach will respond when his puppet masters tell him what to say.

Second, it is probably constitutional to require proof of citizenship, but the vast majority of these people did show their proof to a DMV employee; the software to send it to Kobach's office messed up, not the people who registered. Just the fact that they showed it to a DMV employee should be enough. There has been no vast conspiracy to get people hired into the DMV to commit voter fraud, so why doesn't he take their word that the people had proof of citizenship?

bevy 4 years, 10 months ago

Because their system probably doesn't have a way for the DMV employee to indicate that they did. That would jibe with the entirely messed up stuff I've seen over there.

tomatogrower 4 years, 10 months ago

Then until Kobach gets this system fixed, they should assume all these voters should their proper papers. It's not the voter's problem that the software didn't work. I personally think the person who approved this software should be fired, and an investigation into why Kansas has been ripped off. But the only thing they have done is refuse to pay the last payment until it's fixed. Does anyone know if they have paid in full yet? Does anyone know how much the company donated to Brownback and Kobach?

Richard Heckler 4 years, 10 months ago

And Kobach representing the ALEC far right wing has no foundation for his anti voting agenda.

He just makes things up as he goes along aka full of crap.

Special Voting ID cannot stop voting fraud even if it was to take place. Fraud is the effort to fake out the system. Why does the governor allow for such wasted time and tax dollars?

roadwarrior 4 years, 10 months ago

is that still going on ? disgraceful management. I hurdled the process in the 80's and even in that age of limited electronic data transfer my birth certificate immediately made me eligible to drive and vote (both state and federal) without a hitch. This makes no sense to me, go back to the old system. 14'000, a handful of secretaries could have had that cleaned up last month.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 10 months ago

"However, the ACLU and other organizations on the Left have made clear from the start that they oppose proof-of-citizenship requirements for voting and that they will attempt to prevent the State of Kansas from ensuring that only citizens are registered to vote. This letter therefore comes as no surprise.”

Absolute nonsense and/or simply a lie.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 10 months ago

The ACLU is non-partisan and just as likely to represent a member of the KKK as they are the NAACP. They have one purpose and one purpose alone; to fight for Constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties.
Kris Kobach calling the ACLU an instrument of the left hearkens back to the days of the John Birch Society (an organization started by the Koch brothers daddy, Joseph, and a forerunner of the Cato Institute) calling the ACLU a tool of Communism.
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose...

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 10 months ago

What a wonderful, muddled fictional mess. I suggest you go do a little historical research. There's this amazing thing called the internet....

freestatehawk 4 years, 10 months ago

Where does the ACLU stand regarding the 2nd Amendment?

tomatogrower 4 years, 10 months ago

Dear Mr. Kobach, there is an easy fix for this problem. It's called doing your job. You surely have at least 1 secretary, but I'll bet there are more or you could ask to borrow a couple from someone else or maybe one of your supporters would volunteer. All of you sit down with this list of names, and find their phone numbers and call them. Tell them what has happened, and what they will need to do to fix it, and an apology would be nice too. If you don't talk to a person, then make a note to call back again or leave a call back number. Then sit down and mail them a letter with the same information. They have envelopes now that don't have to be licked, and I'm sure the post office will give you bulk rate. Send out another reminder in 6 months. Make sure you do NOT send a robocall. People hang up.

Or simply assume, since voter fraud has virtually been nonexistent in the past, that these are legal voters. Just do your job, for pete's sake and save the state more legal fees. If you don't and you run for office as a fiscal conservative, then you are lying, and I think you claim to be a Christian, and that's a sin.

jafs 4 years, 10 months ago

I have to say I love the comments calling the ACLU a "liberal" organization.

Even though they may not realize it, people who do that are saying that protection of our constitutional rights is a liberal concern, and not a conservative (or moderate) one.

That may be true, but it's a little surprising that people would be so honest about it.

2xhawk 4 years, 10 months ago

Let's face it -- Kobach's bill is aimed at poor people, and poor people don't vote. If they did, knuckleheads like Kobach and Brownback would never be elected again.

So, is there anything about this that will cause poor people to register, then vote? If someone tried to take my right to vote away from me, I'd be pissed, but will they be? Is there any way to use this story (and the resultant resounding victory for the ACLU in federal court, and the resultant fuss about the enormous legal fees the state will have to pay) to motivate them?

Catalano 4 years, 10 months ago

Hey! I'm poor and I vote. Stop profiling.

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