The American Civil Liberties Union sued Kansas officials on Thursday over what it calls illegal demands for additional proof of citizenship for people trying to register to vote when they renewed or applied for drivers’ licenses. In a suit filed in federal court, the ACLU claimed that more than 35,000 potential voters were blocked over two years from voting because of the additional hurdle – or nearly 14 percent of all new registrants. The Kansas law requiring documents like a birth certificate or U.S. passport for voter registration, which took effect Jan. 1, 2013, is one of numerous voter ID laws passed by Republican-led state legislatures in recent years. The ACLU alleges that Kansas goes beyond what is required by federal law.
Democrats have argued that ID laws target voters who typically support the Democratic Party, such as the young and minorities. Proponents of the measures say they are intended to prevent voter fraud.
Named plaintiffs in the Kansas suit include Ralph Ortiz, a U.S. Air Force veteran who registered to vote while renewing his driver’s license. A year later, he received a letter telling him he was suspended from voting and had to provide additional proof of citizenship.