Archive for Tuesday, July 12, 2016

State board limits votes of 17,000 Kansans missing citizenship proof; Kobach-initiated process called ‘appalling’

Bryan Caskey, director of elections for the Kansas Secretary of State's office, and Sen. Vicki Schmidt, R-Topeka, debate a new regulation that will require some voters in the upcoming elections who have not yet shown proof of U.S. citizenship to cast provisional ballots so they can only vote in federal races.

Bryan Caskey, director of elections for the Kansas Secretary of State's office, and Sen. Vicki Schmidt, R-Topeka, debate a new regulation that will require some voters in the upcoming elections who have not yet shown proof of U.S. citizenship to cast provisional ballots so they can only vote in federal races.

July 12, 2016, 9:32 a.m. Updated July 12, 2016, 12:16 p.m.

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— A state board on Tuesday approved a temporary regulation that will limit the voting rights of an estimated 17,000 Kansans, saying they can cast ballots only in federal races, not in state or local elections.

The action by the Kansas Rules and Regulations Board — which one opponent called “appalling” — affects people who attempted to register at a local motor vehicle office but did not provide proof of U.S. citizenship.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach requested the temporary rule in response to a temporary injunction issued in May by U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson, who said the state cannot enforce its proof of citizenship law on people who registered under provisions of the National Voter Registration Act, commonly known as the “motor voter” law.

The temporary rule means that voters who fall into that category will be given a full ballot, but their ballots will be set aside as “provisional” ballots and will be counted after Election Day when their county Board of Canvassers meets, and that board will count only votes cast in federal races.

For voters in Lawrence, that means Democratic voters in that category will be allowed to vote only in the primary for U.S. Senate between Monique Singh and Patrick Wiesner. There are no Republican primaries in federal races in which Lawrence-area voters can vote.

There is a Republican primary in the 3rd Congressional District between U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder and challenger Greg Goode. There is also a three-way Democratic primary in that district between Jay Sidie, Nathaniel W. McLaughlin and Reggie Marselus.

And there is a Republican primary in the 1st Congressional District between U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp and challenger Roger Marshall.

The Rules and Regulations Board is made up of representatives from the offices of the Secretary of State, Attorney General and Department of Administration. It also includes the chair and vice chair of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules and Regulations.

The board adopted the rule on the last day in which people can register in time for the upcoming Aug. 2 primary and one day before advance voting begins in those races. It will be in force for 120 days, until Nov. 8, which is also the day of the general election. It will become null and void if a federal appeals court later overturns Judge Robinson’s ruling.

Meanwhile, a state judge in Topeka, Franklin Theis, has ruled that the secretary of state has no statutory authority to conduct such a dual election system, in which different classes of voters are treated differently depending on the method they used to register. He also said that forcing one group of voters to cast provisional ballots violates their right to cast a secret ballot.

But Theis did not issue an injunction to block Kobach’s office from conducting a bifurcated election.

Kobach’s office has appealed Theis’ ruling to the Kansas Court of Appeals. It has also appealed Robinson’s decision to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has scheduled a hearing in late August, after the primaries.

Kobach did not attend Tuesday’s meeting himself, but an attorney from his office, Bryan Brown, said the temporary rule was needed to enforce the state’s proof of citizenship law, officially known as the Secure and Fair Elections, or SAFE, Act, at least as it applies to state elections.

“The Legislature passed the SAFE Act,” he said. “The secretary of state, as a constitutional officer, is merely attempting to enact it, per the duties put upon him by the Constitution of the State of Kansas.”

State law allows the adoption of temporary rules and regulations in special circumstances when there isn’t enough time to go through the full process of adopting permanent regulations, which typically takes about a year and involves opportunity for public comment and review by the Legislature’s joint committee.

Sen. Vicki Schmidt, R-Topeka, questioned why Kobach’s office didn’t come to the Legislature during the Sine Die session June 1, or during the special session June 23-24.

But Bryan Caskey, director of elections in Kobach’s office, said that was because the federal case was under appeal, and Kobach was asking the 10th Circuit to put a hold on Judge Robinson’s order pending an appeal of the full district court decision.

Bryan Caskey, director of elections for the Kansas Secretary of State's office, and Sen. Vicki Schmidt, R-Topeka, debate a new regulation that will require some voters in the upcoming elections who have not yet shown proof of U.S. citizenship to cast provisional ballots so they can only vote in federal races.

Bryan Caskey, director of elections for the Kansas Secretary of State's office, and Sen. Vicki Schmidt, R-Topeka, debate a new regulation that will require some voters in the upcoming elections who have not yet shown proof of U.S. citizenship to cast provisional ballots so they can only vote in federal races.

The 10th Circuit denied that request on June 10. Oral arguments on the appeal are now scheduled for Aug. 23.

Schmidt abstained from voting on the temporary rule, saying she had a conflict of interest because she is involved in a contested primary race, and the rule could affect the outcome of that race.

Rep. Sharon Schwartz, R-Washington, who is vice chair of the Rules and Regulations Committee but is not running for re-election this year, voted in favor of the rule, saying, “I believe it was the intent of the Legislature that voters should be citizens of the state of Kansas.”

Mark Johnson, who teaches election law at Kansas University and is one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs in the ongoing federal lawsuit, said there was no justification for enacting a temporary rule, and he complained that the text of the rule was not even made public until shortly before the meeting.

“There is no emergency here,” he said. “Nothing has happened in the last few days that requires this rule to be passed today.”

Mark Johnson, an attorney representing plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit challenging the state's proof of citizenship law, tells the Kansas Rules and Regulations Board that a new rule that says an estimated 17,000 voters to cast ballots only in federal races will undermine the integrity of the upcoming primary elections.

Mark Johnson, an attorney representing plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit challenging the state's proof of citizenship law, tells the Kansas Rules and Regulations Board that a new rule that says an estimated 17,000 voters to cast ballots only in federal races will undermine the integrity of the upcoming primary elections.

Johnson also said the rule will cause confusion at the polls on Election Day and that it could damage the integrity of the entire election process this year.

“Voters are not going to understand why their votes aren’t going to be counted,” he said. “If the county election judges try to explain it to them, inevitably many of them will mess up the explanation, so voters will come to the polls not knowing if they can vote. If they vote, they’re not going to know who they’re voting for. If they find out later that their votes didn’t count, that’s certainly going to undermine credibility in the election process.”

State Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, called the process “appalling” and said, “I cannot believe the secretary of state would pull this kind of chicanery,”

“It is not a coincidence that the 120th day will be the general elections,” Ward said. “So this temporary rule will control not only the primaries, where there are at least a dozen races in highly competitive districts, where a handful of votes will determine the future of this state, being controlled by a regulation that’s in direct violation to court orders.”

Also speaking against the rule was Marge Ahrens, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas, who said her organization has no way of knowing which voters are on the list so the group can contact them and let them know how they will be affected.

“We are concerned that every eligible citizen in Kansas have easy access to the vote,” she said. “And we do not know how the individuals will be reached beyond our Facebook and website where we list those in suspense. We do not even know the names of the persons from the DMV list who will only be allowed to vote in federal elections.”

Kobach’s office recently denied an open records request by the Journal-World for the database of all voters whose registrations are in suspense, including information showing the method by which they attempted to register. The Journal-World has lodged a complaint with the Shawnee County District Attorney’s office, alleging a violation of the Kansas Open Records Act, but that complaint has not yet been resolved.

Comments

Richard Neuschafer 1 year, 5 months ago

Kobach is going to use the excuse of chasing ghosts and goblins as long as he possibly can. He just doesn't want these so-called "Tea Partiers" to lose power. He's scum.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 year, 5 months ago

He is a fascist Nazi. This is the sort of thing that they did in Nazi Germany, keep the people out of the governing process and elevate the dictator (I won't mention his name) to power and the horrible events of the Third Reich.

But Kansans elected HIM. That is the sort of voters we have in Kansas.

Rick Hird 1 year, 5 months ago

It is an outrageous shame that 17,000 Kansans trying to exercise their right to vote are being turned away from participating in state elections. We should be doing all we can to encourage people to vote, not discouraging them. There was never a demonstrated problem to begin with and the "fix" is a purely political stunt. Unfortunately, 17,000 Kansans will suffer the consequences.

Barbara Johnston 1 year, 5 months ago

Reprehensible, unfair to voters, and enables Secretary of State to enact his plan to limit voting in Kansas. This is a move not to eliminate "voter fraud" which is miniscule, but to suppress voting for thousands.

Michael Kort 1 year, 5 months ago

Apparently Catherine Hanawy (R - running for Governor of Missouri ) thinks ? that Lawrence Kansas is in Missouri ? ( see add below.....how funny ! )

This is now a Stealth Libertarian-Republican "thing", as Kris Kobach now uses the Ks. state airplanes to lobby for state voter restriction laws.......In "NEBRASKA" . Humm ?

Kobach is a creeper.........always sneaking around like a political junky burglar, trying to steel people's rights to vote .

He spent how much $ ? And has only caught 3 "over entitled republicans" who were voting in Ks. and one other state together .

Where are the millions and millions of illegal Ks. voters ?.......SCAM ALERT !

Chuck Holder 1 year, 5 months ago

..and then the three republicans he "caught", he ended up slapping their wrists. Had they been democrats they would have faced prison time.

Shane Garrett 1 year, 5 months ago

Hmmm, Vicki is my current Rep. Not sure what to make of her abstaining.

Ken Lassman 1 year, 5 months ago

So will the upcoming confusion be resolved by the general election? I mean, some of the 17,000 voters will be told not to vote in the local and state races and will go ahead and vote, and some of those close elections could go one way with those votes and the other way without those votes. And what if someone is told to not vote, but votes anyway and brings proof of citizenship either with them to the voter's booth or right after the election? Can they be legally denied a vote because they didn't provide proof before a certain date? And what if the August 23 appeal affirms Theis' decision that it's illegal to pursue the two tiered election process? These and other issues make the outcome of several primary races likely to be contested or unclear as to who won, which puts the candidates in a gray limbo as to who is eligible to be on the November ballot. So exactly how does this protect the sanctity of the Kansas voter again?

Cille King 1 year, 5 months ago

I am a poll worker, have been registering voters, and closely follow the decisions on registration and voting. In Douglas County, voters who registered at the DMV but didn't provide their proof of citizenship, will not be on the Douglas County voter roll. Thus, when/if they go to vote, the poll worker (by law) will offer them a provisional ballot. The poll worker won't know why they aren't on the voter roll and will not be able to tell them to vote only the federal elections. When the provisional ballot is researched by the election office after the election, they will see that the person is allowed votes for the federal elections only, and those will be counted, but not state, county, or local votes.

By Kansas statute, the proof of citizenship needs to be turned into the county election official before the election. Turning it in on election day or before the canvass does not count. It's the provisional ballot due to lack of a Photo ID that can be counted if the Photo ID is provided before the canvass.

Ken Lassman 1 year, 5 months ago

Thanks for the clarification. Essentially it sounds like the state legislature has set up the "legal" structure for a two-tiered system of voting for Mr. Kobach to ride herd over the electoral process and it is up to voters themselves to make it a legislative priority to reject this "separate but unequal" electoral system by voting out anyone who supports it and voting in candidates who recognize that this is a "throwing-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater" response to a perceived threat and support better access to the voting booth.

The two tiered system is like someone's response to a bee sting being anaphylactic shock: it's an overreaction to a minor issue that threatens the integrity of the person's life. It's like trying to cut butter with a chainsaw. It's like trying to find out if your gas tank is getting low by lighting a match and peering inside. It's like....

Steve King 1 year, 5 months ago

Actually it's 50,000, but he kicked many off after 90 days. What will it take? 100,000 disenfranchised voters to expose his fraud? Think about it. 50,000 can't vote in Kansas elections. 50,000. Clear enough? Can you say "Supression"?

Cille King 1 year, 5 months ago

"There are no Republican primaries in federal races in which Lawrence-area voters can vote."

The Secretary of State website on Candidates lists 'D J Smith" running as Republican against Jerry Moran. Why does the article say that there are no Republican primaries for federal races?

http://www.kssos.org/elections/elections_upcoming_candidate_display.asp

Doug Larson 1 year, 5 months ago

Ok, I'm not sure exactly how this works but can these 17,000 voters prove citizenship right now and still be able to vote in the state and local election? 2nd question: how are they going to know that they didn't prove citizenship by looking at the ballot. I don't believe your name is on the ballot and if they force them to put their name on it doesn't that take away from the right to vote confidentially?

Cille King 1 year, 5 months ago

"...can these 17,000 voters prove citizenship right now and still be able to vote in the state and local election?"
1) Yes, these people can provide their proof of citizenship document to the county election official until the eve of the election. 2) A provisional ballot is a regular paper ballot that is put inside an envelope with the voter's name, address, and reason that it's a provisional ballot on the envelope. After the county election office has reviewed the voter's information, and in this case determined that only the federal votes will count, the envelop is separated from the ballot, and the appropriate votes counted - without the voter's information.

Doug Larson 1 year, 5 months ago

I have been voting in KS for 28 yrs, but for others, can someone post a link to this magical list of 17,000 non-qualified voters. I did a Google but couldn't find the actual list. Just a bunch of links about what you need to bring to your voting place.

Cille King 1 year, 5 months ago

The Kansas Secretary of State will not release the names that applied at the DMV, and thus can vote only in federal elections. However, the state has released (at a price) the full list of those who have not provided their proof of citizenship document (includes those who registered to vote in other ways - in person, on line, by mail, voter drives, etc). The list was over 22,000 in June (it's larger in July) and can be found on the League of Women Voters of Kansas website: LWVK.org. The direct link is: http://www.lwvk.org/PDF/Voter%20Suspense%20List%20June%202016.pdf

The list would be even longer, but the SOS has a regulation that names will be purged after 90 days.

Ken Lassman 1 year, 5 months ago

Thanks so much, Cille; everyone should be checking that list to make sure they/their family and friends are not on that list! I don't do Facebook, but it would be good to post that link around. Does LWVK plan to update that list?

Cille King 1 year, 5 months ago

LWVK does plan on buying the list of suspense voters every month and posting the updated list on their website: LWVK.org. We have been trying to post the link. It would be helpful if people would share the link.

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