Hearing set on Kansas voting rights

? An advisory committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will hold a hearing Jan. 28 in Topeka to discuss voting rights in Kansas.

The committee met for about an hour by teleconference Tuesday to select the date and location. The exact venue for the meeting has not been determined.

The group is gathering information about how the Kansas Secure and Fair Elections, or SAFE Act, is affecting voter participation in the state. That law, passed in 2011 at the request of Secretary of State Kris Kobach, requires new voters to show proof of U.S. citizenship to register and for all voters to show photo ID at the polls to cast a ballot.

The citizenship requirement has been the focus of particular attention because, as of September, more than 30,000 would-be voters had their registrations placed “in suspense” because they had not provided the required documents. A new regulation Kobach enacted last month requires county election officers to begin canceling those applications to register if they are not completed after 90 days.

The hearing will consist of at least three panel discussions. One will include public officials responsible for administering election laws. Another will include academics who have studied voting laws and the Kansas SAFE Act in particular. A third will include community groups and voting rights advocates.

The committee is scheduled to meet again Nov. 19 to select a venue for the hearing and finalize other details.