Even a fellow Republican legislator on Tuesday questioned the timing of Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s latest attempt to prevent people from having full voting rights in Kansas. But the query from GOP Sen. Vicki Schmidt of Topeka was pushed aside as a Kansas board approved a policy that essentially could prevent at least 17,000 Kansans from voting in local or state elections in 2016. Schmidt wanted to know why Kobach waited until the last possible moment to get the Kansas Rules and Regulations Board to issue its opinion on rules governing the Aug. 2 and Nov. 8 elections. “Why is it an emergency now?” Schmidt asked. Her excellent point: Kobach could have brought this issue before the full Legislature when it met in special session in late June. But he didn’t. That’s an appalling attitude to have toward thousands of Kansas voters, because it denied their elected representatives from taking steps to restore full voting rights to them.
Here’s the problem: These 17,000 Kansans — and that’s a figure that has likely grown in recent months — did not provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote at motor vehicle offices. By federal law, they should be able to vote in federal elections.
They also should be able to vote in local and state elections, according to a judicial ruling that has basically struck down a Kobach-inspired state law requiring proof of citizenship for voting in Kansas.