The Shawnee County election commissioner and representatives of advocacy groups clashed Wednesday over merits of the Kansas secretary of state’s plan to purge more than 32,000 voter registration applications for failure to document citizenship. Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who championed the 2011 law mandating new registrants document citizenship, has been saddled with oversight responsibility of applications held “in suspense” specifically because individuals had yet to provide evidence they were a U.S. citizen. A total of 36,000 applications are in limbo, but nine in 10 are tied to the citizenship requirement. Kobach proposed an administrative rule — not a state law — ordering county election officers to shred all registration applications if not completed within 90 days. Currently, Kansas sets no time limit on the process. … Former Topeka Democratic Rep. Ann Mah, as well as representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas, Topeka branch of the NAACP, Kansas League of Women Voters and Topeka National Organization for Women, expressed opposition to the policy sought by Kobach. Mah said cancellation of registrations pending in the Election Voter Information System after three months was improper because time required to obtain a birth certificate from another state could take much longer. She said applicants who failed to present citizenship documents could meet requirements to participate in federal — not state — elections, and those individuals shouldn’t be cut off.
In addition, she said, the underlying proof-of-citizenship mandate touted as a method of snaring people seeking to corrupt elections wasn’t justified. “There have been so few fraudulent votes, one is more likely to be struck by lightning than be impacted by a fraudulent vote,” she said.
… Marge Ahrens, co-president of the nonpartisan League of Women Voters, said at the hearing the list of suspended voters ought to be retained because to do otherwise would disenfranchise individuals who expressed interest in registering.
She said the League of Women Voters remained skeptical of both the citizenship requirement and a law, also advocated by Kobach, compelling Kansans to show photo identification when casting ballots. “We believe adoption of these laws, as research indicates, is driven by racial, class and partisan considerations,” Ahrens said.