To get out of voter registration “purgatory” in Kansas, it helps to sue. That’s what two young men and their attorneys found when they took Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) to court over a state law that requires residents to present proof of citizenship documents in order to vote in state and federal elections. If a Kansan registers to vote but does not provide one of 13 valid proof-of-citizenship documents, such as a birth certificate or passport, he or she is placed on a so-called “suspense” list. Just three other states in the country have such a requirement on the books, and Kansas and Arizona are the only states enforcing it. About 36,000 Kansans were in this state of “voter purgatory” as of early October. For comparison, the state has 1.7 million registered voters.Full Article: Want To Get Out Of 'Voter Purgatory' In Kansas? Try Suing..
Kansas: Lawyers in voter registration lawsuit against Kobach ask for class-action status | The Wichita Eagle
A court challenge by two Douglas County residents against Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach could become a class-action suit that represents many of the 36,000 people slated to have their incomplete voter registrations canceled. Lawyers for Cody Keener and Alder Cromwell filed an amendment Tuesday to make the change. Kobach has asked the federal court to dismiss the case because Keener and Cromwell are now registered to vote. His office registered them by obtaining proof-of-citizenship documents on their behalf, which is allowed by the registration statute. Will Lawrence, attorney for Cromwell and Keener, said their case remains valid despite Kobach’s subsequent action to register them. “But we also realize this case involves tens of thousands of Kansans who have ended up on the suspended voter list and are ultimately to be denied the right to vote,” Lawrence said. Craig McCullah, Kobach’s spokesman, said Thursday the office was reviewing the class-action request and had no comment yet.Full Article: Lawyers in voter registration lawsuit against Kobach ask for class-action status | The Wichita Eagle.
A federal judge on Friday refused a request from state lawmakers to dismiss a challenge to the N.C. voter ID law. U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder set the issue for a trial, tentatively in January. Attorneys for state lawmakers argued that a 2015 change to the ID provision of an election law overhaul made the 2013 legal challenge moot. Though the law initially restricted voting to people who had one of six specified photo identification cards, the General Assembly added a provision on the eve of the federal trial this summer that made it possible to cast a provisional ballot without an ID. The law is set to go into effect next year. Advocates of the ID law say it is necessary to prevent voter fraud. But few cases have been prosecuted.Full Article: Judge refuses to dismiss NC voter ID challenge | The Charlotte Observer.
Of the 239 million American people who are of voting age, a little more than half—only about 142 million—were registered to vote in 2014. For people in the state of Kansas, their voter registration process is a bit more difficult in the lead up to this election season, thanks in part to the Secure and Fair Elections Act, also known as the SAFE Act. The law, sponsored by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, requires potential voters to provide proof of U.S. citizenship when registering. In all states, voting in federal elections is limited to U.S. citizens, but requirements for voting vary state by state. In the least restrictive states, like New Jersey, for instance, a signature verification is the only requirement for registration. Other states are stricter—Texas requires a government-issued photo ID like a driver’s license.Full Article: Kansas May Be The Toughest Place to Vote in America - The Takeaway.
Amelia Flores, a high school senior with plans to become an electrical engineer, eagerly filled out a form to register to vote for the first time at the Kansas State Fair last month. But she left the fair without registering, stymied by a state law championed by Republicans who dominate elected offices in Kansas that requires her to provide proof of citizenship. “I think it’s ridiculous and restrictive,” said Ms. Flores, who later received a notice in the mail informing her that she must produce a birth certificate or other proof of citizenship to complete the registration. “A lot of people are working multiple jobs, so they don’t have time to get this stuff done. Some of them don’t have access to their birth certificate.” Ms. Flores, who said she was born in Washington State, unwittingly joined a list of more than 36,000 people in Kansas who have tried to register to vote since the law went into effect in 2013, but then did not complete their registration. This month, under a rule adopted by the Kansas secretary of state’s office, county election officials throughout the state began to cull names from the voters list, removing people who had been on it at least 90 days. Those removed from the list must start the registration process over in order to vote.Full Article: Kansas Voter ID Law Sets Off a New Battle Over Registration - The New York Times.
In Kansas, you have to show proof that you are a U.S. citizen to register to vote, and that requirement has held up tens of thousands of registrations and produced an enormous list of would-be voters who are essentially in limbo — all because they haven’t shown a birth certificate or passport. Now Kansas’ top elections official in Kansas wants that list purged, and that’s leading to a fight. Like a lot of people, Cody Keener registered to vote for the first time at the Division of Motor Vehicles. Keener is 21 and comes from a long line of Kansans. So he figured he was set to both drive and vote, but he was wrong. He recently learned that his registration is incomplete because he hasn’t shown proof that he’s a U.S. citizen. “It’s very discouraging to young people,” says Keener. “I’m a full-time student, I work anywhere from 20 to 30 hours a week.”Full Article: Thousands Of Kansans In Voter Limbo As Fight Rages Over Proof-Of-Citizenship Law | KCUR.
The American Civil Liberties Union and Secretary of State Kris Kobach jockeyed for legal advantage Friday in a court case challenging Kobach’s implementation of the state’s voter proof-of-citizenship law. Representing Kansas voters who can cast ballots in federal races, but not state and local elections, the ACLU filed a motion for summary judgment that would strike down Kobach’s two-tier voting system without a trial. Nearly simultaneously, Kobach filed a motion that would allow him to immediately appeal a judge’s ruling that he overstepped his authority by dividing voters into two voting camps, those who registered using a state form and those who registered using a federal form. The case is important because it could let people work around a state law – authored by Kobach – that requires prospective registrants to show documents proving their citizenship before they are granted voting privileges. The proof-of-citizenship requirement is separate from the requirement that voters have to show photo ID when they cast a ballot. While a driver’s license is sufficient for Election Day voter ID, the state’s voter-registration form requires a higher level of documentation. That can usually be met only with a birth certificate, passport, or special papers issued to foreign-born and tribal citizens.Full Article: ACLU moves to strike down Kobach’s voter citizenship law | The Wichita Eagle.
Opponents of a proposed regulation that would allow Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to purge the names of more than 34,000 prospective voters will protest at a public hearing next month, but concede there is little else they can do. The architect behind some of the nation’s strictest voter ID requirements, Kobach is pushing an administrative rule that would allow him to throw out any incomplete voter registration forms after 90 days, most of which lack proof-of-citizenship documentation such as a birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers. Purging the suspension list, which had 34,454 names as of Wednesday, would leave just 4,202 names. … A hearing is set for Sept. 2 over the purge, but Kobach and his opponents agree that, as secretary of state, he has the power to unilaterally change the rules. “These are just formalities he has to go through before he can do it,” said state Rep. Jim Ward, a Democrat.Full Article: Kobach proposal would purge more than 34K prospective voters | The Kansas City Star.
Kansas residents can register to vote using a federal form without having to provide proof of citizenship under the June 29 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, but they won’t be allowed to vote in state and local elections, the state’s top election official said. The high court’s justices rejected an appeal from Republican officials in Kansas and Arizona who have sought force federal elections officials to change a national voter registration form so that it requires new voters in their states to submit a birth certificate, passport or other papers documenting U.S. citizenship. Last year, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the two states can not demand that the U.S. Election Assistance Commission help them enforce their laws. Most new Kansas voters use a state voter registration form requiring such documents. The federal form requires only that voters sign a sworn statement saying they are citizens.Full Article: The Legal Record - Online Edition.
Nearly two weeks before a federal trial is set to begin on the constitutionality of North Carolina’s voter ID rule and other election law changes made in 2013, the General Assembly has changed the rules. The N.C. Senate voted 44-2 Thursday to soften voter ID requirements set to go into effect next year, approving legislation that allows voters without photo IDs to cast provisional ballots. The House also approved the bill a few hours later in a 104-3 vote, sending it to Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk. The bill, similar to a South Carolina law that was allowed to take effect in 2013, sets up a process for voters to use a “reasonable impediment declaration” outlining why they couldn’t provide a photo ID at the polls. Voters could claim one of eight reasons, including a lack of transportation, disability or illness, lost or stolen photo ID, or a lack of a birth certificate or other documents to obtain a photo ID.Full Article: NC legislature votes to soften voter ID requirement | News & Observer News & Observer.
A federal appeals court has refused to reconsider a decision allowing residents of Kansas and Arizona to register to vote using a federal form without providing proof of their U.S. citizenship. A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver issued a one-sentence ruling denying a request from the two states. The appeals court ruled in November that Kansas and Arizona cannot demand help from federal officials in enforcing state laws requiring new voters to submit a birth certificate or other papers documenting U.S. citizenship.Full Article: Court won’t reconsider Arizona, Kansas citizenship lawsuit | Arizona Capitol Times.
Alabama: One of last vestiges of gutted immigration law, Alabama pushes voters for citizenship proof | AL.com
One of Alabama Secretary of State Jim Bennett’s last acts will be to try to implement one of the last provisions of the state’s controversial immigration law that has not already been resolved – a requirement that voters show proof of citizenship to register. Under that provision of the 2011 law, known as HB 56, people must show a driver’s license or some other valid form of identification in order to register to vote. But the state never implemented it while lawyers fought over the legality of the law’s broader measures, which sought to crack down on illegal immigration. The federal courts invalidated most of that law, and the state last year reached a permanent settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, agreeing to permanently black enforcement of seven provisions. Bennett announced last week, though, that the state will press ahead with the citizenship requirement now that the U.S. Senate has confirmed nominees to fill long-vacant seats on the Election Assistance Commission. That is the organization that must agree to change the federal voter registration form to comply with the state requirements.Full Article: One of last vestiges of gutted immigration law, Alabama pushes voters for citizenship proof | AL.com.
Kansas: More than 21,000 voter registrations in suspense because of proof of citizenship | The Wichita Eagle
De Anna Allen has served on a jury. She has served her country. So she was surprised when she couldn’t vote. Allen went to cast a ballot in the primary election in August and poll workers couldn’t find her name among the list of registered voters. She did cast a ballot, but it was provisional and did not count. Allen was among 27,131 people statewide who had signed up to vote but whose registrations were considered in suspense, or limbo, as of Oct. 14, the last day to register before the midterm election. Most of them – 23,026, including Allen – had not yet provided proof of citizenship. By Friday, the state had whittled that number to 21,473. The numbers of Kansans with incomplete registration because of citizenship are highest among the young and unaffiliated, an Eagle analysis found. Statewide, 12,327 people who identified as unaffiliated had their registrations suspended because of lack of proof of citizenship, compared with 4,787 who identified as Republicans, 3,948 who identified as Democrats and 361 who identified as Libertarians. Not all who applied identified a party, records requested by The Wichita Eagle from the state show. The number of men and women with suspended registrations was split pretty evenly. “It just caught me off guard that I was not registered,” Allen said. “I served for a week on a jury trial, which basically told me I was a registered voter. I’m a disabled veteran, so it’s particularly frustrating. Why should I have to prove my citizenship when I served in the military?”Full Article: More than 21,000 Kansans’ voter registrations in suspense because of proof of citizenship | The Wichita Eagle.
Editorials: This is what it’s like to try to get a Voter ID when you’re disabled, poor or don’t drive | The Washington Post
What’s the big deal about getting an ID? You need one, after all, to participate in society in all kinds of other ways — to drive, to get married, to buy beer. Surely the requirement to show an ID on Election Day can’t be that burdensome. This is a common defense of Voter ID laws like the kind now on the books in Texas, ostensibly meant to curb voter fraud. But it glosses over the reality of life for some voters, who may struggle to get around because of disabilities, who may lack the seemingly small sums necessary to pay for documentation, who may not have the flexible scheduling to visit a government office twice, or three times, or more. Small obstacles like these are magnified in the frantic days leading up to the election — and add to this the confusion that ensues when people who have voted for years are suddenly told at their familiar polling places they don’t have what they need this time.Full Article: This is what it’s like to try to get a Voter ID when you’re disabled, poor or don’t drive - The Washington Post.
November will mark the first general election in which Arizonans use a dual track voting system. The new method prevents Arizona from imposing citizenship requirements on voters using the federal form. But it does allow the state to mandate proof of citizenship for local elections. It comes from a voter approved initiative to crack down on fraudulent voting. But, as Arizona Public Radio’s Justin Regan reports, the new system is proving difficult for some first time voters. Jason Kordosky is the campus vote organizer for the Arizona Students Association, today he’s at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff registering first time voters. “I think this is one of the most important elections so all these sort of state elections will have a huge impact on our educational system”, Kordosky said.Full Article: Dual Track Voting System to Affect Some First Time Voters | KNAU Arizona Public Radio.
For some voters, it costs $58.50 to vote in an election. That’s more than enough to keep voters away from polls, according to a new report. Thirty-three states require all eligible voters to show ID at the polling station and, in doing so, add a hidden cost to voting: While casting a ballot is technically free, getting proper identification is not. Many voter-ID laws came about after Congress passed the Help America Vote Act in 2002, which was intended to address concerns of voter fraud and irregularity in the 2000 presidential election. While concerns about fraud are widespread, research shows that it occurs very rarely. The cost of obtaining an ID affects voter participation, and can disproportionately drive down turnout among African-American voters and 18-to-23-year-olds.Full Article: Here's How Much It Costs to Vote in States With Voter ID Laws - NationalJournal.com.
Whether to allow Wisconsin’s strict voter ID law for this fall’s election is up to the Supreme Court – a decision that could come any day. But on Monday, an appeals court gave the law’s backers a big lift. A three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit issued a ruling upholding the law. It was the same panel of all-Republican appointees that last month removed a district court judge’s injunction on the law, leading voting rights groups to ask the Supreme Court to intervene. The 23-page ruling, written by Judge Frank Easterbrook, finds that the law is constitutional and does not violate the Voting Rights Act’s (VRA) ban on racial discrimination. The opinion is striking for its blithe tone in upholding a law that could disenfranchise many thousands. One prominent election law scholar called it “horrendous.” Still, the ruling could give the Supreme Court an additional reason to keep the ID measure in place. Courts tend to be less willing to overturn a full ruling on the merits than a more quickly issued order, which is all that the appeals panel had previously offered. And since Wisconsin has until 5 p.m. Tuesday to make its case to the Supreme Court, the ruling could also give state lawyers some helpful tips for making its case.Full Article: Court upholds Wisconsin voter ID law as SCOTUS mulls case | MSNBC.
Three state agencies charged with implementing voter ID for the Nov. 4 election say they have no additional money set aside to help voters and state workers comply with the newly reinstated requirement. But municipal clerks in Wisconsin’s two largest cities say they will spend thousands of dollars and hire hundreds of poll workers in the next few weeks to ensure that voters have the proper government-issued photo identification when casting their ballots. Spokesmen for the three state agencies — the Government Accountability Board, the Division of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Health Services — all say they are using existing staff and resources to handle the demand. In addition, the accountability board says it has no money for a public information or outreach campaign to ensure voters are aware of the requirement. GAB spokesman Reid Magney said the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee has asked the agency to develop a budget request by Sept. 30, which it will consider at its quarterly meeting sometime after that.Full Article: State has no budget for voter ID, agencies say.
Two days before appearing in front of a panel of federal appeals judges over the state’s halted voter identification law, Wisconsin officials on Wednesday announced a new process for giving free photo IDs to people who don’t have birth certificates. The system was set up in response to a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling in July that said the state could not require people to produce documents that require government fees for the purpose of voting. The new plan for issuing IDs is to debut Monday, but under it those who do not have birth certificates or other key documents will not receive IDs right away. That could mean people who try to get IDs just before an election wouldn’t get them quickly enough to allow them to vote — a provision that could open a new line of litigation. Gov. Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans in the Legislature in 2011 approved the law requiring people to show photo ID to vote. Four lawsuits immediately followed, two in state court and two in federal court. The law was in effect for a February 2012 primary, but was then blocked by a series of court orders. The state Supreme Court in July upheld the voter ID law in the two state cases, one decided 5-2 and one 4-3.Full Article: State plans to issue free photo IDs to some voters.
Sammie Louise Bates moved to Texas from Illinois in 2011. She wanted to vote last year, but all she had was an Illinois identification card, and under Texas’s strict voter ID law, that wasn’t acceptable. To get a Texas ID, Bates needed a birth certificate from her native Mississippi, which cost $42. That was money that Bates, whose income is around $321 a month, didn’t have. “I had to put $42 where it would do the most good,” Bates, who is African-American, testified Tuesday, the first day of the trial over Texas’s ID law. “We couldn’t eat the birth certificate.” Another witness, Calvin Carrier, described the difficulties his father, a Korean War veteran, had in obtaining an acceptable ID, thanks to errors on his birth certificate. Myrna Perez, the deputy director of the Brennan Center for Justice, whose lawyers are among those arguing the case for the plaintiffs, said those witnesses were there to show that “there are real people out there who don’t have the ID that’s needed. When you are limited income, it can be very challenging to scrape up the money that you need for the underlying ID, and it requires a tremendous amount of hoops to go through.”Full Article: In Texas voter ID trial, witnesses describe burden of getting ID | MSNBC.