Kansas must begin registering thousands of eligible voters for federal elections who have not provided proof of citizenship under a federal court order that has complicated the state’s elections less than a month before early voting begins for its primary. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office issued instructions to county election officials late Tuesday to register those motor voter applicants without citizenship documentation to vote — but only in the federal races for President and U.S. Senate and U.S. House. Those guidelines come in the wake of a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision last week that refused to temporarily block a federal judge’s order. Early voting begins July 13 for the state’s primary election in August. In addition to the presidential race on the November ballot, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran and all four of his Kansas colleagues in the House are up for re-election.
“I don’t think it will be an insurmountable issue. It is mostly tell us what we are to do and we will do it and we will do it in a timely fashion,” said Ronnie Metsker, election commissioner for Johnson County, the state’s most populous county in the Kansas City suburbs.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused last week to temporarily stay Robinson’s order. She ruled last month that the burden for election officials pales in comparison to disenfranchising more than 18,000 otherwise eligible voters whose registrations at motor vehicle offices have been cancelled or suspended.
Robinson’s order strikes a blow to a Kansas law that since January 2013 has required its residents to provide documentary proof U.S. citizenship such as a birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers in order to register to vote.