Less than a week ago, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s proposal to move up the date to require proof of citizenship for voter registration appeared dead. But it’s not dead yet. Kobach’s allies in the House have replaced the contents of a Senate bill with Kobach’s plan, which gives the effort new life. In the Statehouse, this procedure is called a “gut and go.” Opponents of Kobach’s proof of citizenship requirement are calling it a shady maneuver to sneak through controversial legislation. “Kobach’s rush to suppress the vote in time for the 2012 elections has now led him not only to undermine the will of the people and our Legislature, but to deceive all Kansans while subverting our legislative process altogether,” a statement from KanVote said.
Kobach denied the assertion. “The gut and go is a very commonplace action. It is done all the time in the light of day,” he said. Legislators enacted a law last year requiring people registering to vote for the first time in Kansas to provide proof of U.S. citizenship, but that law doesn’t take effect until January. Kobach wants to move the date to June 15, saying it should be in place ahead of the surge in registration during a presidential election year.
Kobach says the earlier date will prevent noncitizens from registering, reducing the chance of election fraud. Critics, which include voting rights and advocacy groups, say election fraud in Kansas is nearly non-existent and that by moving up the date, many people, especially the elderly, will be unable to get their birth certificates together in time to register for the August primaries.