Archive for Friday, January 29, 2016

Civil rights panel weighing testimony on Kansas voting laws

Rep. Jim Ward, left, D-Wichita, and Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a  Republican, give opposing testimony to a U.S. Civil Rights Commission advisory council about the impact of Kansas' photo ID and proof of citizenship voting laws, on Jan. 29, 2016.

Rep. Jim Ward, left, D-Wichita, and Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican, give opposing testimony to a U.S. Civil Rights Commission advisory council about the impact of Kansas' photo ID and proof of citizenship voting laws, on Jan. 29, 2016.

January 29, 2016

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— Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Democratic Rep. Jim Ward of Wichita offered sharply different accounts this week about how the state's new, restrictive voting laws have affected voter participation in Kansas elections.

Kobach and Ward appeared together before the Kansas Advisory Commission to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

That group held a daylong hearing Thursday in Topeka, taking testimony from public officials, academic researchers and members of the public about how the SAFE Act has affected voter participation and whether it has had a disproportionate impact on certain groups on the basis of race, color, age, religion or disability.

"I think it's been a success in terms of implementation. I think it's been a success in terms of popularity with the electorate," Kobach said, referring to the Kansas Secure and Fair Elections, or SAFE Act, passed in 2011, that now requires all voters to show a valid photo ID at the polls in order to vote and for new voters to show proof of U.S. citizenship in order to register.

"And I think statistically, it certainly has not had any negative impact on participation, and one could argue it has had a slight positive impact on participation," he said.

But Ward, who has held elected office at the state and local level for most of the last 25 years, said he believes the laws have demonstrably prevented qualified citizens from voting.

Rep. Jim Ward, left, D-Wichita, and Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a  Republican, give opposing testimony to a U.S. Civil Rights Commission advisory council about the impact of Kansas' photo ID and proof of citizenship voting laws, on Jan. 29, 2016.

Rep. Jim Ward, left, D-Wichita, and Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican, give opposing testimony to a U.S. Civil Rights Commission advisory council about the impact of Kansas' photo ID and proof of citizenship voting laws, on Jan. 29, 2016.

"In my last election, I registered 300 new voters," Ward said. "I advance-balloted about 500 voters. It made the difference in my primary. It made the difference in my general election. It is harder to do that today than it has ever been, and I know that only because that's what I do when I get elected."

He also pointed to the number of voter registrations that have been blocked and held "in suspense" because the voters failed to provide the required proof of U.S. citizenship. That number stood at more than 30,000 in September, the last full count taken before Kobach implemented new regulations requiring those applications to be canceled if they've been held more than 90 days.

"When you have between 30,000 and 40,000 people being denied their right to vote, you cannot say with a straight face it's not having an impact on elections and on participation," Ward said.

Michael Smith, a political science professor at Emporia State University who has analyzed the list of suspense voters, testified that those voters tend to be clustered in lower-income neighborhoods. He also said the list included a disproportionate number of young voters.

Kobach pointed to a SurveyUSA poll conducted in 2010, before the laws were enacted, showing 85 percent of those surveyed supported requiring people to show a photo ID in order to vote, and 82 percent supported a proof of citizenship requirement to register.

But Ward challenged whether that poll asked the right questions.

"When you ask a question abut photo IDs on a survey, 'Do you think it's OK to (require) photo IDs?' most people are going to say yes," Ward said.

"When you present to them the fact that there are between 12 and 18 percent of the Kansas population that don't have a driver's license, that slows them down a little bit," he said. "These people don't have checking accounts. They don't have credit cards. They don't participate in our economy at that level yet. But they are still valid citizens. Their voice matters."

Kobach also pointed to the fact that there are now more than 1.7 million registered voters in Kansas, the most the state has ever had. And he said there is little evidence to suggest that voter participation in 2014 — the first election in which both the photo ID and proof of citizenship laws were in effect — was substantially different from earlier, similar elections.

But he also said it's difficult to pinpoint why voter turnout in any given election will be higher or lower than other elections.

"It's really, really hard to isolate why a person decides to vote in any given election cycle," he said. "You have so many factors. But anyone who studies elections will tell you, the number-one factor driving people to the polls is a good, competitive race where people care about the candidates."

Even by that standard, though, participation in the 2014 election, a nonpresidential year in which statewide offices and a U.S. Senate seat were on the ballot — was down from the last similar election in 2002.

According to official election results and census figures for Kansas, 887,023 people cast ballots in 2014. That was 50.8 percent of all registered voters, and 40.6 percent of the total voting-age population. That election included highly competitive races for both governor and U.S. Senator.

Twelve years earlier, 851,966 Kansans voted in the general election. That was 52.7 percent of all registered voters and 44.6 percent of the voting-age population. That year saw an open race for governor, but a noncompetitive Senate race in which Republican Pat Roberts faced no major party opposition.

Ward argued that the photo ID and citizenship laws effectively make people prove they are innocent of a crime before they can exercise their right to vote.

"I come to the presumption that I should be able to participate, and if the government's going to stop me, they have to have a good reason, that the majority should not be able to prevent me from participating in an election," he said.

Elizabeth Kronk Warner, a Kansas University law professor who chairs the advisory commission, said the panel will use all of the testimony it received Thursday and make a report about its findings to the Civil Rights Commission later this year.

Comments

Greg Cooper 1 year, 5 months ago

"And I think statistically, it certainly has not had any negative impact on participation, and one could argue it has had a slight positive impact on participation," he said.

So, Kris, denying 4% (conservatively) of voters who registered to vote had no negative impact on participation? That's not only a stretch of imagination, it's an outright lie.

Cille King 1 year, 5 months ago

Kansas ranked 45th in the November 2014 election in voting among 18 - 24 year olds. Young people are over represented on the suspense list because of the proof of citizenship requirement.

Bob Summers 1 year, 5 months ago

Cobalt blue state New Hampshire demands photo ID.

New Hampshire combats voter fraud, requiring ID for 1st time in primary

New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary makes history every four years, and on Feb. 9 it will do so for an additional reason.

This year, for the first time, primary voters will have to show ID.

"I think there are definitely going to be lines, with any indication of our absentee balloting already -- it’s huge," said Kerri Parker, the town clerk of Meredith, N.H., and president of the New Hampshire Town and City Clerks Association.

"People are concerned, they want to get out, they want their voice to be heard, which is great," she said, but cautioned that "the only thing they need to remember is to bring their ID's to the polls. … We have to see your ID because of voter fraud."

Greg Cooper 1 year, 5 months ago

Facts, Bob: New Hampshire state house political division is 161 Democrat (BLUE) to 239 Republican (RED). While that is quite a bit less red than is Kansas, I'd think even you would have a tough time calling that "cobalt blue".

As an aside, that one state makes the decision to suppress voters does not make it OK for another to do so. That the Confederacy chose to suppress its citizens and break the Union did not make that right, either. We do have a constitution, Bob, and that is the right in this land. Live with it.

Barb Gordon 1 year, 5 months ago

If you think New Hampshire is "cobalt blue," you haven't been paying attention. It's been a Republican stronghold for a while now.

Calvin Anders 1 year, 5 months ago

So your argument, Bob, is that Kobach's draconian proof of citizenship law is ok because N. H. is going to require ID to vote in the primary? Are you thus arguing that Democratically leaning states always make laws that are right, just and constitutional? And further that Kansas legislators need to look to more liberal states for inspiration on their legislative agenda? Perhaps I have judged you too harshly.

Bob Summers 1 year, 5 months ago

Judging by your meandering assuming retort, your Liberal condition and no doubt Liberal milieu, does not allow you to understand the purpose of identification.

Cille King 1 year, 5 months ago

The New Hampshire's voter ID allows many more types of ID than our much more strict Kansas Photo ID, including all ID's that expired within 5 years, all high school ID''s , and just "a verification of the voter's identity by a moderator or supervisor of the checklist". A voter who has been challenged because of a questionable ID also does not have to provide one later in order for their vote to count.

http://www.dmv.org/nh-new-hampshire/voter-registration.php

Calvin Anders 1 year, 5 months ago

"Liberal milieu", I like that. It sounds kind of like some sort of tropical disease suffered by 19th century European expatriates. No doubt, Bob, no doubt.

Michael Kort 1 year, 5 months ago

There is nothing that Kobach has done, as Secretary of State, that has honored the job of SOS !

The man is a political fraud, a dishonorable errand boy for the manipulations of the 1%ers and a distraction from any truthful state government operation, that is in the honorable interests of all of the citizens of Kansas..

lIke his witch hunt for illegal voters that has only turned up 6 older republicans ( who probably got what they had coming, for voting for Kris to begin with ) so far, this guy is nothing but a distraction to common sense in the operation of government .

But he certainly has managed to disinfranchise 30,000 to 40,000 of their right to vote, on an imaginary technicality that has not produced more than 6 people ( older republicans ) who voted illegally, who were probably just old and a little confused, as older people get ? !

Oh, they sound like a real dangerous bunch of mis voters to me !.....and no doubt, Kris " Danger Man " Kobach, is going for a sentence of "HARD 50" (?) for each of them !!!

Is that the best that Kris and his 3 hired lawyers can find ? In 7 months ?

No huge illegal voting conspiracy involving Mexican illegals ? Or people from Mars ?

What a waist of taxpayer money and time in the name of a delusion that is being pedaled to the public by voter fraud "Danger Man" Kris Kobach .

"6 charged in 7 months" of delusional hunting for dangerous voter criminals, who are going to send the state of Kansas "to hell in a hand basket" .

Sorry Kris,...but brownie and our legislature have already beat these aged mistaken republican voters, at sending this state "to hell in a hand basket" .....and they did that all by themselves .....without the help of your "magnificent 6 ( in the theatrics of somebodies (?) own delusional mind ? ) republican voters" !

Al Deathe 1 year, 5 months ago

"Ward argued that the photo ID and citizenship laws effectively make people prove they are innocent of a crime before they can exercise their right to vote".

So does this mean when a business ask for an ID to cash your paycheck they are making people prove they are innocent of fraud instead of making sure someone isn't cashing someone else's paycheck? All these years I thought it was to make sure the person standing in front of them was who they said they were. People show their ID's all the time and never bat an eye so why is everybody so worried about it at the time of voting. We do things every day that we may not like but if you want to participate you must do what is required or you don't get to participate.

Greg Cooper 1 year, 5 months ago

And, contrary to popular opinion, Wal Mart is not a nation or a state. Private business can require whatever ID they want. States are bound by the Constitution to allow their citizens to vote. They need only prove age as a condition for registering and voting. A voter is eligible to vote until and unless proven ineligible, and then are subject to civil and criminal penalties as prescribed by law, but only then.

Steve King 1 year, 5 months ago

It's not the ID that's the issue Al. It's what it takes to get one and the proof of citizenship that's the issue. Some of us have short memories. Kovach pushed this promising a seamless communication with the DMV. When that failed and the DMV backed out of the program he did not put it on pause until the technical issues were resolved. As a result nearly 40,000 were put in suspense. He's pushing to purge them because the number is getting obscene. When challenged, people's paperwork are magically validated overnight. Why don't they do that for the tens of thousands on the list? If the words "purging voter rolls" doesn't bother you that's a problem. This is voter supression and nothing else. Unabated it won't be long before the list reaches 100,000. That Kovach is worried about. Sort of a big sign it's not working.

Bob Burton 1 year, 5 months ago

Boy are people gona be in for a shock when the drivers license clerk says let me see you birth certificate. Seems that back in the 1990s congress said you had to have proof of US citizenship to renew your drivers license. I have already been told to be sure and bring mine when I go to renew next time. Stay well and warm.

Steve King 1 year, 5 months ago

That's right Bob. Problem is it does not leave the DMV office and reach the SOS office like we were told it was (see my post above). That is one reason why so many are on the suspense list. And I just renewed my DL and did not have to provide my proof of citizenship so Bob you are wrong, wrong, wrong in your statement that you have to provide it to renew.

Bob Burton 1 year, 5 months ago

Steve, you are probable right because the DVM was to get new software installed and that was put on hold. Then they were gona it the next year but there was still a bunch of problems. They got it next year but the system was full bugs and if you talked to the DMV people it was a very sore subject. Now I don't know weather they every got it fixed. So the SoS put the whole thing on hold till they got the bugs out of the system. I told my Reps to draw a red line through that companys name and never hire them again. Stay well and warm.

Michael Kort 1 year, 5 months ago

I think that at some point, that the company was 3M .

Steve King 1 year, 5 months ago

They have never gotten it fixed. Have heard nothing for a year or so now. Sort of like Brownback's special economic counsel had quitely quit posting the State's economic performance stats on their website in 2014. We just saw it this last week and it's not good news.

Bob Burton 1 year, 5 months ago

Michael, I think you are right. Stay warm and well.

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