Kansas appears likely to be dealing for some time with a significant number of new prospective voters whose registrations remain on hold because they haven’t provided proof of their U.S. citizenship, a legislative committee learned Monday. The issue arose during a meeting of the Joint Committee on Information Technology, as it reviewed the Department of Revenue’s work on a $40 million upgrade of the computer system that handles vehicle titles and registrations, as well as driver’s licenses. The next, still-unscheduled phase of the project deals with driver’s licenses. Department officials told the committee that they don’t have a timetable for requiring everyone who renews a driver’s license to submit documents proving their citizenship. The requirement is in place for people who are getting a new Kansas license.
The federal government requires states to allow people to fill out voter registration forms at driver’s license offices, and in Kansas, it’s a common source of new registrations. Before the state’s voter proof-of-citizenship requirement took effect in January, some legislators had assumed people renewing driver’s licenses would be required in the near future to provide citizenship documents and therefore comply at the same time with the state election law.
As of Monday, 16,600 prospective Kansas voters had their registrations on hold because they haven’t yet provided a birth certificate, passport or other citizenship document. They can’t legally cast ballots until they do.
“It doesn’t seem that there’s any end in sight for this problem,” said Rep. Brandon Whipple, a Wichita Democrat who serves on the technology committee.