The day after last fall’s presidential election, Kris Kobach got to work. In an email plotting action items for the new Trump administration, Mr. Kobach, the Republican secretary of state in Kansas and a champion of voter suppression campaigns there and nationally, said he had “already started” drafting a key legislative change that would enable states to impose rules complicating registration for millions of new voters — exactly the sort of rules he had advanced in Kansas, with mixed success. Writing to a Trump transition official, Mr. Kobach said he was preparing an amendment to the National Voter Registration Act to allow states to demand documentary proof of citizenship for new registrants.
Despite years of litigation and adverse rulings from courts, that same requirement in Kansas, in effect since 2013, had blocked more than 30,000 people at least temporarily from registering and, in thousands of cases, from voting, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, which studies voting issues and has contested Mr. Kobach’s moves in Kansas.
Nearly all of those blocked in Kansas were eligible U.S. citizens who simply lacked ready access to passports, birth certificates and other documents, as at least 5 percent of Americans do. Disproportionately, those lacking such documents are minorities and younger voters — groups that tend to back Democrats.