Four days after a federal judge threw out a Kansas voting restriction, 72 newly naturalized Americans became registered voters in the same courthouse where the landmark voting rights trial took place. “That’s the reason why I became a citizen: to be able to vote,” said Patricia Mascote, who owns a convenience store in Overland Park and has lived in the United States for nearly 30 years after emigrating from Mexico. If Mascote’s naturalization ceremony had taken place just a week earlier, Mascote could have been required to submit her naturalization documents to complete the registration process. Instead, all she and the other newly registered voters had to do was write down their names and addresses and attest to their new status as citizens.
“It takes five minutes or less, and it’s done,” said Christine Hutchins, a member of the Johnson County chapter of the League of Women Voters, who oversaw the registration of new citizens Friday at the Robert J. Dole Federal Courthouse in Kansas City, Kan.
The League of Women Voters has been at war for the past five years with a Kansas law that required prospective voters to provide proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or naturalization documents, to register.
Now that a federal judge has ruled the law unconstitutional, the League and other groups hoping to register new voters expect to see the state’s voter rolls grow by thousands before November, when Kansas chooses a new governor.