Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is planning to use provisional ballots during the upcoming elections and then throw out all of the votes for state and local races cast by the thousands of voters who register to vote at motor vehicle offices without providing proof of citizenship. An email sent from Kobach’s office to county election officials outlines the state’s proposed plans for implementing a two-tiered election system in the wake of a federal court order requiring Kansas to allow these voters to cast ballots at least in the federal races. The email sent by Election Director Bryan Caskey tells local election officials that the secretary of state has not approved a shorter “federal only” ballot. Instead, Kobach wants to institute a “partial provisional” process that allows election officials to go back into those provisional ballots and throw out any votes cast in state and local races and count only votes cast for president and U.S. Senate and House.
The state had a similar process in place in the 2014 elections in which a few hundred voters who registered with a federal form were affected. But implementing it in the upcoming elections is estimated to affect as many as 50,000 who registered to vote when they got their driver’s licenses without providing the citizenship documentation.
Kobach’s move comes despite Shawnee County District Judge Franklin Theis finding in January that “no authority exists in the Kansas Secretary of State to encumber the voting process” as he did in the 2014 elections.
Kobach’s planned response to a federal court order requiring him to register motor voter applicants “flies in the face” of the decision by Theis, who ruled Kansas law does not allow Kobach to implement a bifurcated voter registration system, said Micah Kubic, executive director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas.