Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Wednesday that comparing voter registration applications against Kansas birth certificates will reduce the backlog of registrants whose voting rights are on hold for not providing proof-of-citizenship documents. Checking the state’s birth certificates has reduced the number of prospective registrants who can’t vote by 7,700, from slightly more than 20,000 to about 12,500, Kobach said in testimony before the House Elections Committee. The backlog of suspended registrants has been a significant concern to some legislators and voting-rights advocates who object to the Secure and Fair Elections Act, a Kobach-inspired law that requires voters to provide proof of citizenship before they can become eligible to vote.
Kobach said 72,999 prospective voters have attempted to register since the proof-of-citizenship requirement went into effect at the beginning of 2013. Of those, 52,035, or 72 percent, completed the process by providing the papers the law demands, he said. “Seventy-two percent, that’s a pretty good percentage,” Kobach said.
Twenty-eight percent, or 20,201 prospective registrants, didn’t provide citizenship proof with their applications. But that number is shrinking, Kobach said.
Since Kansas Department of Health and Environment officials started verifying citizenship for the Secretary of State’s Office early this month, 7,716 of the suspended voters have been found to have Kansas birth certificates on file, according to figures Kobach provided the committee.
Kobach said the county election offices have been sent the names of registrants confirmed to be citizens by KDHE. He said it should take about a week or so to get their names on the rolls as fully eligible voters.