Saturday, July 13, 2013

Kobach proposes rule change on proof-of-citizenship requirement to register to vote

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

TOPEKA — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is proposing a change to the law he pushed through the Legislature that requires proof of citizenship to register to vote.

The Kansas proof-of-citizenship law requires people who register to vote in the state for the first time to provide a birth certificate, passport or other document.

But since it went into effect Jan. 1, more than 11,000 people who have attempted to register to vote are in "suspense," meaning they are not yet qualified to vote because of lack of proof of citizenship.

County election officials have said that when people show proof of U.S. citizenship to get a driver's license at the Division of Motor Vehicles, the citizenship documentation is not making it to election officials for voter registration purposes.

Critics of Kobach have said this shows that Kansas wasn't ready for a proof of citizenship requirement.

But Kobach has said the problem can be addressed with his proposed regulation, which will allow people whose registration is in suspense to be able to cast a provisional ballot. 

But that ballot would not be counted unless the necessary proof-of-citizenship documents are provided to election officials prior to the canvassing of the vote after the election.

The State Rules and Regulation Board will consider the rule change at a meeting Tuesday.