Kansas would end strict enforcement of a proof-of-citizenship requirement for new voters under proposals outlined Tuesday by the presumed Democratic nominee for secretary of state. Democrat and former state Sen. Jean Schodorf outlined a plan for fixing what she called problems with the state’s voter registration system. But conservative Republican incumbent Kris Kobach said Schodorf is promising to ignore the proof-of-citizenship requirement if elected secretary of state, making the office “lawless.” Schodorf would allow prospective voters to cast ballots even if their registrations are on hold because they’ve not yet documented their citizenship for election officials. She also proposed that Kansas stop requiring proof of citizenship from new residents who’ve had valid voter registrations in other states and allow anyone using a national voter registration form to vote in all state and local elections — though the form doesn’t instruct voters to provide citizenship documents.
She said such steps can be taken administratively, without rewriting state law. Schodorf, a former Republican who voted for the proof-of-citizenship requirement as a legislator, did not call for the law’s repeal and even said that she doesn’t regret voting for it. Schodorf switched parties last year to challenge Kobach’s re-election.
Kobach championed the proof-of-citizenship law as a way to combat election fraud and contends it is preventing non-citizens, including immigrants in the U.S. illegally, from voting. But about 18,700 registrations are on hold because the prospective voters haven’t yet submitted the proper papers, and critics say the law will suppress turnout.
“My mistake was trusting Kris Kobach,” Schodorf said at a Statehouse news conference. “That is precisely why I am the one to hold Kris Kobach accountable for the promises. I gave him a chance and he blew it.”