Lee Albee never thought signing up to vote would be so cumbersome. Earlier this year, the Overland Park man registered to vote when he renewed his license at the motor vehicle office. It was supposed to be easy. It wasn’t. Weeks later, the Johnson County election office notified Albee he needed to prove citizenship — with a birth certificate or a passport — if he wanted to register. As it turned out, no one had asked him for those documents at the DMV office. Now he doesn’t have the time to follow up. “They’re making it incredibly difficult,” Albee said. “It’s a pain in the tush.” Albee is among 15,622 Kansans who had their voter registrations set aside until they can prove their citizenship under a new Kansas law that started this year. About 30 percent of those suspended registrations were in Johnson, Wyandotte and Leavenworth counties.
Most of the hiccups occur at the state’s motor vehicle offices, where drivers complain they aren’t being asked for citizenship documents when they register to vote. Almost nine in 10 of the voters who had their registrations suspended signed up to vote at the DMV.
The new law, which was pushed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach, requires first-time voters to provide proof of citizenship when registering.
Anyone registered to vote on Jan. 1 of this year was grandfathered in and doesn’t have to prove citizenship.
Kobach argued the law was needed to prevent voter fraud and preserve the integrity of the state’s elections.
Critics say it’s designed to suppress voter registration. The say claims of voter fraud are overblown.