Attorneys in a federal lawsuit challenging Kansas’ proof of citizenship voting law are seeking to add another plaintiff in the case as part of their effort to turn it into a class action lawsuit. Last week, attorneys filed a motion to amend their complaint, adding a 20-year-old Kansas University student, Parker Bednasek, as a plaintiff. If approved, he would serve as a representative of all members of the class of people whose voter registrations are being blocked for failure to show valid proof of U.S. citizenship. Plaintiffs are asking the court to declare the proof of citizenship law unconstitutional. They are also asking for an injunction to prevent the state from enforcing a new regulation that requires county election officers to cancel all incomplete applications after 90 days.
Will Lawrence, one of the local attorneys involved in the case, said Bednasek was born in Oklahoma and grew up in Texas before moving to Douglas County to attend KU.
After moving to Kansas, Lawrence said, Bednasek canceled his Texas voter registration, then on Dec. 3 attempted to register in Douglas County but was immediately told his application would be placed “in suspense” for failure to show valid proof that he is a U.S. citizen.
Kansas enacted the proof of citizenship law in 2011, and it took effect Jan. 1, 2013. By the time of the 2014 elections, based on a review of voter data by the Journal-World, more than 23,000 registration applications had been placed in suspense due to that law, or roughly 14 percent of all the people who’d attempted to register during that period.