Democrats in the Kansas House and Senate opened the legislative session Monday by introducing a bill intended to counter obstacles to registration and voting raised by the state’s proof-of-citizenship mandate. Rep. Jim Ward and Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, Wichita Democrats, proposed the Protection Against Voter Suppression Act. The bill adds a provision similar to federal law that would permit Kansans to vote after signing an affidavit stating they are a U.S. citizen. False statements could be prosecuted as a felony crime. The target of the legislation is a proof-of-citizenship law championed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach, adopted by the Republican-led Legislature and signed by Gov. Sam Brownback.
Kansas law since January stipulated potential voters would be asked to submit documentary proof of citizenship at the time of registration. Individuals who don’t have a birth certificate or passport when registering were placed in “suspense” until they provided appropriate evidence of citizenship. Thousands of Kansans have been trapped in voter limbo.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled a similar law in Arizona was unconstitutional because it conflicted with federal statute.