A leading scholar in Kansas election law says there’s a real possibility the state will end up holding “dual” elections this year in which some voters are only allowed to vote in federal elections, but not in state or local elections. Reggie Robinson, a former president of the Kansas Board of Regents who now teaches at Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, said that could be the result of legal battles now pending in federal courts over the state’s requirement that new voters show proof of citizenship to register. “In Kansas, Secretary (of State Kris) Kobach has said we may have to do this and has already begun to make plans,” Robinson said in a speech to the Lawrence Rotary Club. “I know he’s communicated to local election officials.”
In 2011, at Kobach’s urging, Kansas lawmakers passed the Safe and Fair Elections Act, or “SAFE Act” which, among other things, requires people registering to vote for the first time to show documentary proof of citizenship.
People who attempt to register but do not provide that documentation have their registrations placed “in suspense,” according to Kobach’s office, meaning they cannot vote until they provide that proof of citizenship.
According to Kobach’s office, as of Feb. 1 there were 14,918 registrations being held in suspense statewide due to the proof of citizenship requirement. That includes 454 such in-suspense registrations in Douglas County, according to the County Clerk’s office.