Of the 239 million American people who are of voting age, a little more than half—only about 142 million—were registered to vote in 2014. For people in the state of Kansas, their voter registration process is a bit more difficult in the lead up to this election season, thanks in part to the Secure and Fair Elections Act, also known as the SAFE Act. The law, sponsored by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, requires potential voters to provide proof of U.S. citizenship when registering. In all states, voting in federal elections is limited to U.S. citizens, but requirements for voting vary state by state. In the least restrictive states, like New Jersey, for instance, a signature verification is the only requirement for registration. Other states are stricter—Texas requires a government-issued photo ID like a driver’s license.
But proof of citizenship—a birth certificate, a passport, or naturalization documents—are even more difficult for many voters to procure. Kansas is one of just four states that have this requirement for voter registration, along with Alabama, Arizona, and Georgia. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, only Kansas and Arizona are enforcing the law.
And now, Kansas is going one step further. If you are in the process of registering to vote, but have not completed the process because of a failure to provide proof of citizenship, you have 90 days to complete the process or you will be bumped from the list, added to the roll of incomplete registrants, and forced to register again.
Because of this law, more than 36,000 people in Kansas have unsuccessfully tried to register to vote since 2013.