Kansas is asking a federal appeals court to keep thousands of people who haven’t yet provided the documents to prove they are U.S. citizens from voting in November’s election. Judges from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver are set to hear arguments Tuesday in the legal fight over how the state enforces its proof-of-citizenship requirement for voters who register at motor vehicle offices. Since 1993, states must allow people to register to vote when they apply for or renew their driver’s licenses. The so-called motor-voter law says that people can only be asked for “minimal information” when registering to vote, allowing them to simply affirm they are citizens.
A federal judge in May temporarily blocked Kansas from disenfranchising about 18,000 who registered to vote at motor vehicle offices without providing citizenship paperwork such as birth certificates or naturalization papers. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson ordered the state to register them for federal elections until the case, one of at least four the state is facing over its law, is decided at trial. The state has said that ruling could affect as many as 50,000 potential voters by the November elections.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach wants the appeals court to overturn her preliminary order. In the appeal, Kobach, a national leader in Republican voting requirement efforts, argued that the motor voter law doesn’t bar states from asking for proof of citizenship and that it doesn’t make sense to hold people who register to vote elsewhere in the state to a higher standard than those who apply to register at motor vehicle offices.
The American Civil Liberties Union sued on behalf of the League of Women Voters and people whose registrations were held up because the state said they were incomplete.