Archive for Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Voting rights advocates fear problems with proof of citizenship requirement will mean many lost votes; board rejects Kobach modification

July 16, 2013


— A state board today rejected changes to the Kansas law requiring proof of citizenship for newly registered voters as voting rights advocates voiced concerns that thousands of Kansans will be unable to vote because of implementation snags with the new law.

Camille Nohe and Maryanna Quilty, both of Topeka and with the League of Women Voters, on Tuesday speak about problems with the law requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote.

Camille Nohe and Maryanna Quilty, both of Topeka and with the League of Women Voters, on Tuesday speak about problems with the law requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote.

"We are putting up a barrier to voting that doesn't need to be there," said Maryanna Quilty, president of the League of Women Voters of Shawnee County.

The proof-of-citizenship law requires people who register to vote in the state for the first time to provide a birth certificate, passport or other document.

But since it went into effect Jan. 1, more than 12,000 people who have attempted to register to vote are in "suspense," meaning they are not yet qualified to vote.

Officials said the registrations in question are people who are coming in to the Division of Vehicles to renew their license, or change their address or name on their license and decided to register to vote at the same time.

Jeannine Koranda, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Revenue, which oversees the Division of Vehicles said, "In Kansas, we require proof of lawful presence for people getting their driver's license for the first time such as a teenager or someone moving in from out of state.

"To renew a license, you do not need to prove lawful presence. So it is possible for someone to come in and do something with their license and not prove lawful presence, but with every driver's license transaction we are required by Federal law to ask if people want to register to vote. If they do not have proof of citizenship documents the registration is still sent to the SOS's (Secretary of State) office where it goes into suspension until those documents are provided. The SOS's office or the election clerk sends a letter to those voters whose registrations are in suspense letting them know they need to provide additional documents."

Secretary of State Kris Kobach who pushed for the law sought an emergency temporary change.

But that was rejected by the State Rules and Regulation Board. A member of that board said Kobach's proposed fix was "disingenuous at best."

Kobach proposed allowing those in "suspense" to be able to cast a provisional ballot. But their vote would only count if they provided proof of citizenship documents before the votes were canvassed, usually a week after an election.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Brad Bryant urged the board to pass the measure, noting there are several special elections scheduled for September and October

But state Sen. Vicki Schmidt, R-Topeka, said most people don't understand what a provisional ballot is, and that the percentage of people who would return to prove their citizenship would probably be extremely low.

"I don't believe a large percentage of the population knows what casting a provisional ballot means," Schmidt said.

"They believe it is going to count. Sadly for these 12,000 plus individuals it will not count unless they take further action and I think that is disingenuous at best," she said.


Orwell 4 years, 10 months ago

Excellent. The integrity of my ballot would be harmed more by the possibility of disenfranchising thousands than by the possibility of a rare case of actual voter fraud.

And save all your tired arguments about the requirements for taking an airplane flight. This Kobach proof-of-citizenship requirement is plainly an attempt to suppress the vote. Kansans should be ashamed to have a chief elections officer who wants to make it harder to vote; he's simply anti-democracy.

I hope we soon see the Kansas law rejected outright by the courts, as happened to a similar Arizona voter suppression effort. It's always lousy government when elected officials try to make it harder for us to vote them out of office.

blindrabbit 4 years, 10 months ago

Oh, those 1933 Germanic thoughts of voter suppression to gain an advantage not otherwise obtainable appear to be alive and well in Kansas.

blindrabbit 4 years, 10 months ago

Oh, and who would think voter certification would move "seamlessly" from the DMV to the election officials after the massive time delays experienced earlier with the new style drivers licenses and the supposed computer problems? And we thought Washington D.C. was a mess.

Catalano 4 years, 10 months ago

I wonder what the breakdown of those 11,000 are WRT party affiliation.

verity 4 years, 10 months ago

LJW, would you please look into that?

Very important information without which this story is very incomplete. Of course, many in Kansas may be registered as Republicans just so they can vote in primaries, so other demographic breakdowns would also be important, such as their place of birth.

verity 4 years, 10 months ago

Oh, he may be a very good reader of history---or more likely his handlers are. He knows exactly what he's doing.

Centerville 4 years, 10 months ago

So we have 12,000 voters who aren't capable of obtaining their own birth certificates? Excellent.

verity 4 years, 10 months ago

If you were born in Kansas, have a computer and $26, it's easy. If not, maybe not so much.

And if you were born in another country, it says that on your birth certificate and you have to bring your certificate of citizenship to any driver's license office where you apply for a license---and bring it every time, not just the first time. Not all offices have the capability to deal with that, so you may have to travel a long distance and then wait for hours. You cannot use a copy of the certificate of citizenship, you have to have the original. This certificate is not something one carries around all the time as it's difficult if not impossible to replace. Getting a US passport can get you around this, but passports also cost money.

Seth Peterson 4 years, 10 months ago

No, you have 12,000 registering voters who are unable to obtain their birth certificate, the number of voters who don't have one hand could be many, many times that.

Of course, that's the point.

Michael LoBurgio 4 years, 10 months ago

There are actually two problems going on here.

The first problem is that thousands of Kansans DID provide their proof of citizenship at the DMV when they registered to vote. These would be those folks who just moved to the state and had to bring in a birth certificate to get a drivers license anyway. But their information did not get passed to the election office because of the computer glitch. Kobach's bad solution is to make those folks vote a provisional ballot and have to bring in their proof AGAIN in a short time after the election prior to the canvass date. That is simply wrong, and probably unconstitutional. As Sen. Schmidt said, most folks have no idea what a provisional ballot is or how it works. They won't know that their votes are being thrown out until it's too late.

The second problem is that those of us who go to the DMV to simply renew our licenses don't have to bring a birth certificate to do that. So those folks who are renewing and register to vote don't know that they have to follow up by taking a birth certificate to the election office before their voter registration becomes final. This probably violates the national registration law that Arizona violated as well.

In any case, Kobach is wrong on the law again. We put this part of the law off until 2013 hoping to show the legislature that registering at the DMV would get messed up, but Kobach convinced them otherwise. Now we will all pay for that as thousands of citizens are denied their right to vote.

jafs 4 years, 10 months ago

Shouldn't the DMV folks inform people that they'll have to provide additional information to the SOS in order to register?

And/or the SOS send notification to those who need to do that?

The simplest solution would be for the DMV to require anybody registering to provide the actual information needed at the state level - why don't they do that? They're a state agency, offering people the opportunity to register to vote, right?

It's unnecessarily complex for them to offer that without requiring everything people need, and then have the SOS complete the process.

hillsandtrees 4 years, 10 months ago

The Voter Registration form includes the statement "Signature: I swear or affirm that I am a citizen of the United States and a Kansas resident, that I will be 18 years old before the next election, that if convicted of a felony, I have had my civil rights restored, that I have abandoned my former residence and/or other name, and that I have told the truth on this application. Warming: If you submit a false voter registration application, you may be convicted and sentenced to up to 17 months in prison."

The form requires your full name, address, birthday, Kansas Drivers License Number, or the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number, and your signature. The Kansas Drivers License requires proof of citizenship when first acquired. The SSN requires proof of citizenship. Both of these can be checked by the County Clerks' office. A voter registration card is sent to the address listed with a return if undeliverable.

How and why would anyone risk going to jail for 17 months for one vote?

verity 4 years, 10 months ago

"How and why would anyone risk going to jail for 17 months for one vote?"

One could ask the same question about all the illegal aliens who supposedly are voting/trying to vote---except if they get caught, it's going to be worse than 17 months in jail.

skull 4 years, 10 months ago

They're the ones with a single horn and leave trails of rainbows behind them. Oh wait...never mind, those are unicorns.

Seth Peterson 4 years, 10 months ago

That's easy to answer as soon as you're able to answer the questions: How can you identify something that doesn't exist?

Joshua Montgomery 4 years, 10 months ago

I have been very vocal about this from the get go. Mr. Kobach's plan to disenfranchise voters is going EXACTLY as those of us opposed to the measure predicted.

This requirement needs to be repealed or challenged in court. If challenged, it will fail to stand up to constitutional muster.

Voters need to show Mr. Kobach the door during the next election. He is a self serving, selfish, self focused individual and should not be allowed to hold public office.

Patricia Davis 4 years, 10 months ago

If our illustrious Secretary of State spent more time making the information flow easily from DMV to SOS, helping Kansans vote in upcoming elections rather than being a cowboy for the Koch boys smart ALECs, it would be greatly appreciated.

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