Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach can’t operate a two-tier voting system that allows him to count only votes cast in federal races for voters who registered using a federal form, a state judge ruled Friday. “There’s just no authority for the way the secretary of state has handled federal form registrants,” said Doug Bonney of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas, which represented plaintiffs in the case. Kobach championed a 2013 Kansas law that requires those registering to vote to provide proof-of-citizenship documents, typically a birth certificate or passport. But the federal registration form only requires a sworn statement from the voter as proof of citizenship. So Kobach decided that for those who use the federal form to register rather than the state form, only their votes for national offices — for president and members of Congress — would be counted. Votes in other races wouldn’t be counted.
“The judge is saying there’s no provision in the Kansas statute that says you can disregard votes in state and local elections that are also on a ballot,” Bonney said.
If it stands, the ruling in the case, Belenky v. Kobach, would seem to allow voters to work around the state’s proof-of-citizenship law by using the federal form.
But Kobach said Friday he will file a motion to reconsider or appeal the ruling. “The case is far from over,” Kobach said. “We don’t anticipate this decision is going to be the final word on the subject.”