League of Women Voters urges ‘suspense’ voters to complete registrations as soon as possible

The League of Women Voters of Lawrence-Douglas County is urging voters whose registrations are “in suspense” to turn in all the required information, including proof of U.S. citizenship, before a new regulation takes effect that would cancel their applications to register.

“We’re trying to get people fully registered to vote,” said Cille King, vice president of the local LWV chapter.

Since 2013, Kansas has required new voters to show proof of U.S. citizenship to register. Those who fill out a voter registration card but fail to provide proof of citizenship have their registrations placed “in suspense,” and they are unable to vote until they provide the required documents.

Applications can be placed in suspense for other reasons, such as failing to sign the card, or failing to fill out other required information.

According to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who pushed for the law requiring proof of citizenship, more than 36,000 voter registrations statewide are on the suspense list, and about 80 percent of those are due to lack of citizenship documentation.

Benjamin Lampe, who heads the Elections Division in the Douglas County clerk’s office, said there are 1,435 registrations in suspense locally. Of those, 1,189 are awaiting proof of citizenship.

Under current law, state and county election officials are required to keep those suspense registrations on file until the applications are complete.

Kobach has proposed a new administrative regulation that would require county election offices to cancel those applications if they are not completed within 90 days. After that, new voters would need to start the process over again by filling out a new application in order to register.

Kobach has said it’s an administrative burden for officials to keep those applications and to continue trying to contact individuals to complete their applications.

But the League of Women Voters is also trying to contact those individuals in hopes of getting them fully registered.

King said the complete list of Douglas County voters in suspense is available on the League of Women Voter’s website, http://lawrenceleague.com.

A list of the documents that will satisfy the proof of citizenship requirement is available on the secretary of state’s website. They include such things as a birth certificate showing the person was born in the United States, a U.S. passport, naturalization documents, Native American tribal cards and U.S. military identification.

Douglas County residents can submit copies or photographs of those documents by mail to the Douglas County Clerk’s Office, 1100 Massachusetts St., Lawrence, KS 66044.

They may also submit them as email attachments to elections@douglas-county.com. Or the documents can be submitted by fax, at (785) 832-5192.

This story has been edited to correct Cille King’s title. She is the vice president of the League of Women Voters of Lawrence-Douglas County.