The exasperation in at least one judge’s voice is palpable. As is the mental scurrying of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as he studiously replies to the queries. The audio of arguments made Tuesday in a Denver courtroom provides a 30-minute summary of why this case is so crucial to the right to vote. The back and forth between the three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, Kobach and lawyers representing the American Civil Liberties Union deftly outlines the dangers of Kobach’s long-running arguments to undercut the right to vote. Of course, that is not Kobach’s stated intention, but it will be the outcome if he prevails. What the courts will ultimately decide is this: How far can Kobach legally go to satisfy his urge to chase after nonexistent voter fraud? And if he gets his way, how might any decision in the case bleed out to other states, harming even more people’s right to vote?
Kobach isn’t alone in this march. Others would surely try to follow suit, mimicking and pushing an equally dangerous agenda in other states.
The term “patchwork” was used during the oral arguments. The nation would not be well served if states were allowed to carelessly craft their own versions of election registration laws in ways that would undermine the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.
The League of Women Voters of Kansas, in conjunction with the ACLU, sued Kansas on behalf of individual plaintiffs affected by changes the Legislature approved in 2012.
The changes go beyond what is asked for under federal law, asking Kansas voters for proof of citizenship to complete their registration. Problem is, people either don’t have or don’t cart around birth certificates, passports and other documents.