Will Kansas Finally Start Registering the Thousands of Voters It Illegally Blocked?

The district court set a June 14 deadline for the state to start.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris KobachPete Marovich/Zuma

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Tuesday is a big day for thousands of potential voters in Kansas who were blocked from registering to vote by a 2013 state law that required proof of citizenship to register. Or at least it’s supposed to be. The law was recently overturned in court, and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s court-mandated deadline to begin the process of registering at least 18,000 people who were affected by the measure was this Tuesday. Whether he’s actually started to do so remains unclear.

The situation dates back to February, when the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Kansas, and a local law firm sued Kobach over the law that required additional proof of citizenship from people registering to vote while applying for or renewing driver’s licenses. The US District Court for the District of Kansas agreed with the ACLU in May, and a federal appeals court concurred last week, setting a deadline of June 14 for Kobach to being registering voters.

The district court judge said that the law likely violated the National Voter Registration Act, according to the Associated Press, which mandates that states require only “minimal information” to determine a voter’s eligibility for federal elections. Kobach argued that throwing out the law would create a heavy administrative burden, as it could potentially affect 50,000 voters in the state. The AP noted that the state’s proof-of-citizenship requirement hit young voters the hardest. People between the ages of 18 and 29 make up 14.9 percent of the state’s registered voters but 58 percent of voters whose registrations were canceled or suspended under the law.

“Secretary Kobach has repeatedly stood in the way of thousands of Kansans who have tried to exercise their right to vote,” Dale Ho, the director of the ACLU Voting Rights Project, said in a statement. “Today that ends. He must let them vote.”

Kobach’s office told Mother Jones on Tuesday that the secretary of state had no comment about the deadline.

 

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