News & Politics

League of Women Voters Piles on Federal Lawsuit Challenging Kris Kobach's Citizenship Law

FILE- In this Jan. 25, 2016, file photo, House Elections Committee, Secretary of State Kris Kobach speaks in Topeka, Kan. Documents obtained by The Associated Press show Brian Newby told Kobach that he could count on him months before he was hired to head the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The new executive then decided residents of Alabama, Kansas and Georgia can no longer register to vote using a national form without providing proof of U.S. citizenship. (Thad Allton/Topeka Capital-Journal via AP, File) MANDATORY CREDIT

Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s efforts to ensure the integrity of Kansas elections is under fire by Democrats who believe his policies violate federal voting laws.

At issue is a Kansas law that passed in 2011 and went into effect in 2013. It requires people who register to vote at the DMV to provide proof of citizenship. There are currently three federal lawsuits pending that involve the state’s proof of citizenship law.

A federal class action lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union last September in an attempt to overturn the proof of citizenship requirement, and this week the League of Women Voters of Kansas joined the lawsuit.

According to the plaintiffs, an estimated 22,814 Kansans have either had their registrations put on the “suspense list” and been barred from voting until they produced documentation, or been purged from the voting lists altogether for failing to provide proof of U.S. citizenship. Under the law, there are about a dozen documents that residents can use to prove U.S. citizenship and residents born in Kansas can be provided a free birth certificate if they don’t have one.

Last fall, the ACLU claimed that more than 36,000 would-be Kansas voters had been kept of the rolls as a result of the policy.

Via the Lawrence Journal-World:

Meanwhile, the conservative Public Interest Legal Foundation, which is also involved in the case, filed a brief this week arguing that a large number of non-citizens have, in fact, been registered to vote and cast ballots in other states.

The case, Fish vs. Kobach, was filed in November by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of all individuals who have attempted unsuccessfully to register since the state’s citizenship requirement took effect in 2013.

The suit also names Kansas Secretary of Revenue Nick Jordan as a defendant, alleging that the Division of Vehicles requires people to show proof of citizenship in order to register when they renew their drivers licenses, which the plaintiffs say violates the National Voter Registration Act, or “Motor-Voter” law.

In a document filed with the court March 17, the League of Women Voters claims that the citizenship law has interfered with its core mission of conducting voter registration drives and educational programs, forcing it to divert resources toward contacting thousands of voters on the suspense list to help them comply with the citizenship law.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation submitted a friend of the court brief arguing in favor of the proof-of-citizenship law, saying that without it “non-citizens can easily register to vote and cast ballots in U.S. elections.”

“Kansas is taking the lead nationwide to prevent this criminal activity by ensuring that only American citizens vote in Kansas elections,” the organization stated in its brief.

On his Sunday KCMO radio talk show, Kobach argued that the vast majority of Kansans support the state’s citizenship requirement. “I believe the polling number was 86%,” he said.  “Because we have a problem with non-citizens showing up to vote.”

He cited a recent Sedgwick County audit that found approximately 20 illegal aliens who had either successfully registered to vote before the law went into effect or registered after the law went into effect and were contacted by election officials who then discovered they were not citizens.

“So only one of Kansas’ 120 counties has provided almost 20 cases in just a couple years of illegal aliens discovered on the voter roles. This is a serious problem. We’re talking about hundreds statewide. And how many times do you have an election that comes down to one or two votes? It happens all the time. Every election cycle, ” Kobach said.

“So every time an alien votes, it cancels out the vote of a U.S. citizen. And in those close elections, it steals the election,” he added. “The ACLU and the League of Woman Voter liberals have tried their hardest — they’ve been launching lawsuit after lawsuit to stop us and so far they’ve failed, and hopefully they’ll continue to fail.”