Kansas county election offices are sorting through thousands of records to identify voters affected by a recent federal court order, according to Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit blocked Kansas and two other states from requiring proof of citizenship from people who register to vote using the federal form. Kobach said the state’s voter database does not differentiate between people who register with the federal form and the state form, so local election officers will have to physically go through paper records of people who tried to register since January to determine which voters were affected by the ruling. He estimated the number of people affected would be between 200 and 400 statewide. The state began requiring voters to provide proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or passport, when they register to vote in 2013. Before this year, federal form registrants were allowed to cast ballots in federal elections regardless of whether they provided proof of citizenship.
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission decided in late January to allow Kansas, Georgia and Alabama to require proof of citizenship with the federal form. The League of Women Voters challenged the rule in court, prompting Friday’s order, which will allow these voters to participate in this year’s presidential election.
A separate case remains pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. That case concerns whether the state can require people who register at the DMV to provide proof of citizenship. Kobach, who has represented the state in both cases, took the position that Friday’s court order extends only to federal elections and that federal form registrants will still be barred from participating in state and local races unless they provide proof of citizenship.
A case pending in Shawnee County could change that and enable these voters to participate in state and local races as well. Judge Larry Hendricks will hear arguments in that case next week. Kobach said he is not optimistic about his chances in Hendricks’ courtroom. based on the judge’s previous decision to allow DMV registrants who had not provided proof of citizenship to vote in the August primary.