Paul Davis filed a lawsuit in federal court Wednesday against Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach over a new rule that will remove names from the suspended voters list. Davis, a Lawrence attorney who ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor in 2014, said federal law prohibits Kobach from “purging voters.” The state enacted a requirement that beginning in 2013, prospective voters must provide proof of citizenship, such as a passport or birth certificate, when they register to vote – a policy Kobach championed. Since the law went into effect, nearly 37,000 voters have been left in suspended registration status. For perspective, Davis lost to Gov. Sam Brownback in the last election by fewer than 33,000 votes. Davis said he didn’t think proof of citizenship affected the outcome of the election.
Kobach has moved forward with a new rule, set to take effect on Friday, that would remove a person’s name from the list if he or she failed to show proof of citizenship after 90 days. Kobach has said the policy will save county election offices money, but his critics accuse him of trying to purge the list.
Davis and Will Lawrence, an attorney who worked on his campaign, are representing Alder Cromwell, 18, and Cody Keener, 21, two Douglas County residents on the suspended voter list. They assert that the National Voter Registration Act and the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of due process preclude Kobach from removing their names from the list. The suit also seeks to throw out the proof of citizenship requirement entirely.