As the state Legislature prepares for a special session to rewrite an unconstitutional criminal-sentencing law, Wichita Democrats are planning to reopen the debate over a voter proof-of-citizenship law they maintain is equally unconstitutional. Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who wrote the law requiring new voters to provide citizenship documents, said he thinks it would withstand court scrutiny, unlike an Arizona law that recently was overturned by the Supreme Court. And even if it didn’t, Kansas could create two classes of voters: those who provide the proof required by state law and could vote in all elections and those who don’t and who would be limited to voting only in congressional and presidential elections, Kobach said.
At Gov. Sam Brownback’s direction, lawmakers will gather Sept. 3 in Topeka to rewrite the state’s Hard 50 sentencing law because the U.S. Supreme Court last month invalidated a similar Virginia law.
Now, Rep. Jim Ward and Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, both D-Wichita, say the same logic should apply to a Kansas law mandating that prospective voters provide documents proving their citizenship, because the Supreme Court also struck down a similar Arizona law, saying that it conflicted with the federal “motor voter” law.
Since the law went into effect at the beginning of the year, between 12,000 and 13,000 new Kansas voter registrants have had their voting privileges suspended because they didn’t provide birth certificates, passports or other citizenship documents when they registered.