A proposal to change the new state law that has put at risk 15,000 Kansans’ ability to vote was rejected in the state House of Representatives on Tuesday and probably will not be revived during the special session. Crowd gathered for rally on Tuesday urging the Kansas Legislature to repeal a proof of citizenship requirement to register to vote. As the Legislature started a special session to fix a constitutionally flawed murder statute, state Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, tried to pass a provision to eliminate the new state requirement that Kansans must show proof of U.S. citizenship with a document such as a birth certificate or passport when they register to vote. Since the proof of citizenship requirement took effect Jan. 1, the voter registration applications of approximately 15,000 Kansans, including 600 in Douglas County, have been placed in “suspense,” which means they aren’t completed.
But Ward’s proposal, which he tried to attach to the bill fixing the murder statute, was declared not relevant, so it probably won’t be considered during the session. Republican legislative leaders have said the special session will last no more than three days and they want to focus solely on the murder statute and several appointments by Gov. Sam Brownback.
“I live in Overland Park, where we’re having an election next month,” said Aaron Belenky, whose registration application is in ‘suspense.’
“My voter registration has been unlawfully ‘suspended,’ and unless the Legislature repeals this law, I will be denied my most fundamental freedom, the right to vote,” said Belenky.
The ACLU, NAACP, and Equality Kansas say the Kansas proof-of-citizenship requirement should be invalidated because the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an Arizona provision that was similar to the current Kansas law.