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Archive for Friday, September 13, 2013

Attorney General Schmidt’s office declines to issue legal opinion on voter registration controversy

September 13, 2013

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Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt's office has said it will not issue a legal opinion on whether the state's proof of citizenship requirement to register to vote is valid now that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a similar law in another state.

When the court decision was made in June in an Arizona case, Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley, of Topeka, wrote to Schmidt, a Republican, asking for an advisory opinion on whether the Kansas law was invalid.

In a letter back to Hensley, Deputy Attorney General Athena Andaya wrote that because a lawsuit has been threatened challenging the Kansas law, then "the subject of litigation will be resolved by the judiciary."

The proof of citizenship requirement has mushroomed into a major fight between Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who pushed for the law, and voting rights advocates.

Since implementation in January, more than 16,000 would-be voters, including 650 in Douglas County, have had their voter registrations held up. In some areas of the state, elections will be held this fall, and voting rights advocates say they fear that some voters, who are eligible to vote, will be denied their right to vote.

The ACLU, on behalf of several organizations, has notified Kobach that if he doesn't fix the situation, it will file a lawsuit in November. Some have complained that they provided proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, when getting a driver's license, and registering to vote. But they then got a notice saying they would have to provide their birth certificate again at the local election office for the registration to be complete.

But Republican leaders refused to allow efforts by Democrats to change the law during a special legislative session last week.

And Kobach and the secretary of state of Arizona are seeking a court order requiring the United States Election Assistance Commission to modify the federal voter registration form to include those states’ requirements that a person provide proof of citizenship to register to vote.

Glenda Overstreet, president of the NAACP Kansas State Conference, has said Kobach was wasting taxpayer money on a “misguided lawsuit.”

Supporters of proof of citizenship requirements say they are needed to prevent voter fraud. But opponents said the requirement creates a hurdle to voting, especially for people who have difficulty or are unable to get the necessary documentation, such as a birth certificate, to prove citizenship.

Comments

nick_s 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Proof that even the Republican Attorney General knows that the law will not hold, or is he following orders not to say anything? If everyone in the legislature, the Governor, & the AG thought this law was legitimate & had nothing to hide, wouldnt they be speaking loud & clear in its favor? Man, what a sham.

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somebodynew 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Somehow this does not surprise me the Schmidt. He doesn't have "what it takes" to do his job independent of the party line (or the BB/KK line) and actually do his job. He will just defer, because he doesn't want to issue a ruling counter to KK. Not to mention all the money Schmidt's lawyer buddies will make defending this unconstitutional law.

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Joe Hyde 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Fewer than a half-dozen proven cases of voter fraud statewide.

Nevertheless, Secretary of State Kobach holds his boot on the necks of sixteen thousand legitimate Kansans, barring them from voting in upcoming state elections...despite the fact they meet the residency requirements for obtaining a Kansas drivers license.

And our state Attorney General has nothing to say? He kept silent as Kobach began abusing the power of office. He kept silent as Kobach suspended the voting rights of 16,000 American citizens. And he keeps silent about the rightness and constitutionality of what Kobach is STILL DOING...even after the US Supreme Court strikes down similar voter suppression tactics in another state?

Wow. We've got ourselves one hell of a crew in Topeka.

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Cait McKnelly 10 months, 2 weeks ago

You're just now realizing that? Welcome to Brownbackistan. It's Teapublican Paradise.

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Orwell 10 months, 2 weeks ago

This is what you do when you know your positions can't pass the smell test – avoid engaging in the discussion (or repeat fact-free propaganda), then keep as many Kansans as possible away from the polls.

Public officials who make it harder to vote are unfit to serve in a representative government.

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jafs 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Apparently people who provided their birth certificate have been notified that they need to do it again.

Why is that a huge problem? They have it, and can easily provide it again, to ensure that they're registered, right?

Also, it's interesting that only 650 of the suspended registrations are in Douglas County - I would have thought it was more than that.

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Randall Uhrich 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Why do we keep electing these idiots? All the voters in this state can' be THAT stupid.

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Thomas Bryce 10 months, 2 weeks ago

I agree. All voters in this state can't be that stupid. The Problem is the consistently low voter turnout. If ALL the Legally Registered Voters in Kansas Actually Voted, things might change. As long as only 30% vote (and that is a generous number), they can tell the Other 70% what to do. Get out and vote People. Vote Like Your Future Depended On It.

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