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Archive for Sunday, October 20, 2013

Editorial: Election confusion

The legal confusion surrounding Kansas voter registration laws may have a big impact on voter participation in upcoming elections.

October 20, 2013

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There are a number of ways Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach could improve the accuracy and integrity of the state’s election system. Creating a two-tiered voter registration system whereby some voters would be qualified to cast ballots only in federal races is not one of them.

A recent Associated Press story focused on the efforts of a consortium of 22 states that are working to update their voter rolls. An effort to identify voters who are registered in more than one state is known as the “Kansas project” in recognition of the leadership of Kansas and Kobach. A second project, the Electronic Registration Information Center is working to identify registered voters who have died.

The goal of the projects seems to be simply to improve the accuracy of voter registration rolls, which is a concept most people should support. Cleaning up their records to prevent abuses should be a top priority for both local and state election officials.

None of the multi-state programs, however, deal with the issue of verifying citizenship as part of the voter registration process. A new Kansas law that adds that requirement is causing the state and Kobach significant problems.

Since the proof-of-citizenship requirement went into effect, about 18,000 voter registration forms have been placed “in suspense” in Kansas, most of them because they are not accompanied by citizenship documentation. Many of those people have registered to vote at drivers license offices using a federal form, which carries no citizenship requirement.

Kobach has joined with Arizona officials in a lawsuit against the federal Election Assistance Commission, which has refused to alter federal voter registration forms in Kansas and Arizona to include the states’ proof-of-citizenship requirement because is says the state laws conflict with the requirements of the federal Motor Voter Act. As always, Kobach expresses confidence that he will win the legal argument, but he nonetheless has developed a fallback plan involving a two-tier registration system: The people who filed either a state or federal registration form AND provided proof of citizenship would be eligible to vote in all elections; those who filed a federal form but did not provide citizenship proof would be eligible to vote, but only in congressional and presidential elections. Left out completely are people who used a state form but supplied no citizenship proof; they wouldn’t be allowed to vote in any election.

Simple, right?

County election officers already have been instructed to create a separate database for people who register with the federal form. If this plan moves forward, counties will have to bear the additional expense of basically running two parallel elections for two different classes of voters.

An even more serious consequence of Kobach’s maneuvering is the confusion it is creating among Kansas voters. With state and federal general elections little more than a year away, no one knows how Kobach’s various legal battles will play out, who will be allowed to vote in what races, and whether counties will be required to fund and monitor an election that includes not only two major political parties but two different sets of voters.

Making sure voter rolls are accurate and up to date and curtailing voter fraud are basic duties for the state’s top election official. So is encouraging the participation of all eligible voters in Kansas. Kobach claims that his efforts have nothing to do with suppressing the vote in Kansas, but the confusion and uncertainty his legal machinations are causing are almost certain to have exactly that effect.

Comments

JayhawkFan1985 11 months, 2 weeks ago

I see massive civil rights issues here. The irony is that most (but not all) US citizens have birth certificates stored at a state agency. Since the various states already know who these citizens are, why can't they access these records to verify who the citizens are? Answer, because this is about disenfranchising whole classes of people that Kowach and his ilk don't want to vote. This is wrong. It is like the poll taxes and other Jim Crow laws. I'm embarrassed for our state. Kansas...the new Mississippi.

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Kevin Elliott 11 months, 2 weeks ago

It is clear that voter supression is the wave if the future.

I was taught in citizenship class that the vote was the most essencial part of our form of democracy. I believe that.

It is also very clear that a system that prohibits thousands and thousands of legitimate voters.from participating in democracy to prevent mayby 8 illegitimate (allegedly) votes shows a profound failure to of our democracy.

The profound failure of the people who support voter supression measures is they think the USA, the greatest nation on earth, can not figure out how to protect the process from a few illegal votes without tearing thousands.from their right to vote.

Those who think we can't or don't think it is worth the effort belittle our nations most sacred foundation.

They should be ashamed and I know.I am ashamed for them.

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Richard Heckler 11 months, 2 weeks ago

"The legal confusion surrounding Kansas voter registration laws may have a big impact on voter participation in upcoming elections."

The primary right wing objective. Vote them out of office ASAP. They have no right to mess with voting laws as a matter of their personal agenda.

If anyone needs a birth certificate a copy can be obtained from the county seat of whatever state the birth transpired. Our experience has been quick and painless.

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Richard Heckler 11 months, 2 weeks ago

"Kobach has joined with Arizona officials in a lawsuit against the federal Election Assistance Commission, which has refused to alter federal voter registration forms in Kansas and Arizona to include the states’ proof-of-citizenship requirement because is says the state laws conflict with the requirements of the federal Motor Voter Act. As always"

It seems nothing has changed except in the eyes of the Brownback administration. These folks are all about more big government and wasting tax dollars.

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