The federal trial over a Kansas law requiring people to show citizenship documents like a birth certificate or passport when registering to vote begins on March 6 in Kansas City. The American Civil Liberties Union will represent the League of Women Voters and several individuals whose voting rights were violated. Kris Kobach — the secretary of state of Kansas, chief architect of the law, and the defendant in the lawsuit — will represent himself. From 2013 to 2016, more than 35,000 Kansans were blocked from registering because of Kobach’s documentary proof-of-citizenship law — approximately 14 percent of new registrants. Many Kansans, including several of our clients, went to the polls on Election Day in 2014 with every reason to believe that they were registered, only to be told, “Sorry, you haven’t proven that you’re a U.S. citizen.”
We filed suit in 2016, charging that Kobach’s law undermines the fundamental right to vote and violates the National Voter Registration Act. In a preliminary ruling for the 10th Circuit, Judge Jerome Holmes, who was appointed by George W. Bush, found that the law had caused the “mass denial of a fundamental constitutional right.”
The law is now blocked under the 10th Circuit’s order, which stays in effect until the trial’s outcome.