Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, narrowly avoided contempt charges in September 2016 which would have been the cherry on top for those in opposition to Kansas’s proof-of-citizenship requirement. The requirement, which requires anyone registering to vote in Kansas provide proof of citizenship via one of thirteen documents, was enacted under the Secure and Fair Elections Act of 2011, and was enforced beginning in 2013. The law became the center of a national controversy in January 2016, when Brian Newby, executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, granted Kansas, Georgia, and Alabama the ability to alter the federal registration form to satisfy the state identification requirements (Georgia and Alabama have passed similar proof-of-citizenship requirements but have not yet enforced them).
This decision happened at roughly the same time that Shawnee County District Judge Franklin Theis held that Kobach and the state elections department could not enforce the two-tier voting system created by the 2013 law. Prior to that decision in Belenky v. Kobach, Kobach had decided that those who registered with the federal form (which did not require proof of citizenship but merely an affirmation) could only vote in federal elections. Therefore, to vote in state and local elections, a person registering in Kansas had to register with the state form and show proof of citizenship.
The two-tier system led to confusion in those registering, including occasions in which people registered to vote at the Department of Motor Vehicles only to be told later that they had in fact not fully registered. Judge Theis was having none of that, stating, “a person is either registered to vote or he or she is not. By current Kansas law, registration, hence the right to vote, is not tied to the method of registration.”
In the ensuing months, several courts have held that Kobach must count voters who did not provide proof of their citizenship when registering at the DMV, even for state and local elections. This included requiring Kansas to count the votes of those who did not follow that procedure for the March 2016 primary.
Full Article: Kansas 0-3 in Voter ID Lawsuits |.