A decision on whether the federal government must follow Kansas’ rules requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote could come by the end of September, in time for the Nov. 4 general election, according to a federal agency’s filing in a Denver appeals court. A federal lawyer has suggested that oral arguments in the case could be held as early as July 21 or as late as Sept. 8 and still leave the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals enough time to decide the case by Sept. 30, “in time to inform registration in the run-up to the general election.” The deadline to register for the general election is Oct. 14. The court conflict is over a federal registration form authorized by the national Help America Vote Act. That form requires prospective voters to swear they are citizens, under penalty of law.
Kansas law and its registration form are stricter about the registration requirements, saying new registrants must provide copies of documents to prove their citizenship. That usually means a birth certificate or passport, although other documents are accepted in special circumstances, such as for naturalized citizens, tribal voters and U.S. citizens living abroad.
The proof-of-citizenship requirement is separate from a companion measure that requires voters to show state-issued photo ID at the polls, which is not at issue in the current case.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who championed the state proof-of-citizenship requirement in the Legislature and has been the lead lawyer defending the state’s position in court, could not be reached for comment.