A judge cleared the way Friday for Kansas to use a dual voting system to help enforce its proof-of-citizenship rule for new voters, suggesting that doing otherwise could taint the state’s August primary election. Shawnee County District Judge Franklin Theis’ ruling was a victory for Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a conservative Republican who champions the citizenship rule as an anti-election fraud measure. Critics contend it will suppress the vote. Theis rejected the American Civil Liberties Union’s request to block a policy Kobach outlined last month in instructing county officials on handling ballots from voters who registered using a national form without providing a birth certificate, passport or some other documentation of their U.S. citizenship. Kobach advised counties to set aside the ballots and count only their votes in congressional races.
The ACLU sought to force election officials to count all votes from such ballots. The group initially sued Kobach last year on behalf of two voters and the gay-rights group Equality Kansas over the possibility of a dual system, arguing that Kobach has no legal authority to do it. The group filed a request last month for a temporary injunction.
The national form has voters sign a statement that they’re U.S. citizens, without requiring papers. Kansas and Arizona sued the federal government to force it to add specific instructions for their states on their proof-of-citizenship requirements. That case is before a federal appeals court, leaving the treatment of voters registering with the national form in flux. Most Kansas voters register with the state’s form, which requires them to provide citizenship papers.