Voting advocates and others Wednesday spoke out against a new rule proposed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to toss out incomplete voter registrations after 90 days. The rule is unnecessary and would discourage many from even trying to participate in the voting process, they said. One speaker charged that the rule change was politically motivated. But a county election commissioner said the 90-day limit made sense as a matter of efficiency. Kobach didn’t attend the hearing, which was run by state elections director Bryan Caskey. Caskey said there are about 36,000 incomplete registrations on file and about 32,000 of those are missing proof-of-citizenship documents. He said Kobach would consider all public and written testimony before making his decision.
In 2011, the Kansas Legislature passed the Safe and Fair Elections Act, which included a photo ID requirement for voting and proof-of-citizenship rules for voter registration. The proof-of-citizenship portion took effect in January 2013. It requires those registering to vote to provide such documents as a birth certificate or passport, which Kobach and others say is needed to ensure that only U.S. citizens vote.\
Marge Ahrens, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas, said that producing proof-of-citizenship documents is a challenge to many because of the cost and time, particularly to older residents. State and local officials don’t assist people in getting documents to complete their registrations, she said, and it would be a hardship if their applications were discarded.