Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach came into office promising to end voter fraud. He asked Gov. Sam Brownback for prosecutorial powers and his wish was granted. The worst governor in the nation empowered the worst secretary of state in the nation to go after virtually nonexistent voter fraud cases, costing Kansas taxpayers hefty sums at a time when the state’s economy is collapsing. Never mind that there was no evidence voter fraud was a problem. Kobach promised to prosecute 200 cases, eventually presenting six cases and prosecuting only one case.
Kris Kobach also enacted the strictest voter regulations in the country, something that has sparked numerous lawsuits, including one from the ACLU, and created a two-tier voting system:
Kansas is one of four states, along with Georgia, Alabama and Arizona, to require documentary proof of citizenship — such as a birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers — to register to vote. Under Kansas' challenged system, voters who registered using a federal form, which hadn't required proof of U.S. citizenship, could only vote in federal races and not in state or local races. Kansas says it will keep the dual voting system in place for upcoming elections if the courts allow its residents to register to vote either with a federal form or at motor vehicle offices without providing proof of citizenship.
The law has had a chilling effect on current and future voters in Kansas. During the 2014 election, Kobach’s office placed 37,000 voters in a "suspended registration status.” Although his opponent, Paul Davis, didn’t think it affected the outcome of that election, it is noteworthy that Brownback won by 33,000.
The new proof of citizenship requirement is having an equally chilling effect on new voter registrations, with two-thirds of all new registrations on a suspended voter list.
— Of the more than 22,000 submitted voter registration applications submitted between Feb. 1 and Feb. 21, only 7,444 were completed with proof of citizenship, State Elections Director Bryan Caskey said. That meant the majority of those registrants were put on the suspense list, and their voting registrations will be purged after 90 days unless proper documents are submitted.
— Younger citizens were affected the most. Although those between the ages of 18 and 29 comprise only 14.9 percent of registered Kansas voters, that age group makes up more than 58 percent of applicants who registered at motor vehicle offices and are on the suspense list.
The ACLU is fighting on behalf of six voters (so far), but the case could obviously affect tens of thousands of Kansas voters:
The ACLU is representing six Kansans who registered to vote when they obtained their driver's licenses but were not allowed to cast ballots because they did not comply with a state law requiring they prove their citizenship.
Ho argued Kansas' proof-of-citizenship law, which went into effect in 2013, violates the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. In a lawsuit filed in February, the ACLU argues that Congress specifically rejected a provision that would've required proof of citizenship or other documentation when people register to vote.
"The integrity of the process is threatened when 16,000 people are prevented from voting," he said.
So, as Kansans watch their school budgets plummet, their roads crumble, their health services slashed, and their credit rating in a downward spiral, the so-called fiscal conservatives are digging in to suppress the vote—and it will once again cost Kansas taxpayers millions to fight.