Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has long been concerned with voter fraud; but this week, advocates for the Hispanic & Latino communities spoke up, noting that the instructions the state of Kansas provides to Spanish Speakers isn’t the same as the instructions provided to English speakers.
The changes in voter registration guides, presented on the first page of the Kansas website, offer a stark contrast as to what the rules in the state of Kansas are in order to vote, and for those who speak Spanish as a primary language, they may find themselves playing by a different — and in fact, wrong — set of voting guidelines leaving them disenfranchised for the upcoming election.
Within the first paragraph of the guide, voters receive VERY different information:
Voter Guide in English
There is no length of residency requirement in Kansas, but a person must be registered 21 days before the election and must be a resident at the time of registration
Voter Guide in Spanish
No hay un requisito de tiempo mínimo de residencia en Kansas, pero la persona debió haber sido registrada al menos 15 días antes de le elección siendo residente al momento de registro.
The difference? For those that speak Spanish, or who use the Spanish language voting guide, there is reason to believe they have an extra six days to register and vote. A call to a county clerk’s office verified that in fact, English speakers are correctly informed, the time period is 21 days, not 15.
Moves to disenfranchise voters through word games isn’t new to states hoping to keep people out of voting booths, but with the internet, you would assume there would be a far better effort to do so. While discrepancies over when you can register to participate in the next election abound — especially in a state that refuses to consider items such as same-day registration — other elements of the Voter Kansas form present more problems for the Secretary of State’s office attempt at equal enforcement.
The state guide in English:
If you are registering for the first time in Kansas, you
must submit a document proving you are a U.S. citizen.
Birth certificates, passports, naturalization documents,
military records and other documents are acceptable
The state guide in Spanish:
Si es la primera vez que se registra en Kansas, usted debe
presentar un documento que acredite que usted es un ciu-
dadano de los Estados Unidos. Un certificado de nacimiento,
documentos de naturalización, registros militares y otros
documentos son aceptables
What’s missing? Passports. For English speakers, a passport is viewed as an acceptable form of photo ID to use to register. For those who speak Spanish? Passports, a common form of identification for those who may travel home, as one group noted, aren’t seen as acceptable.
The pamphlet, which has already been distributed via the VoteKS website and printed by several organizations presents a real problem. With the form having been on the website for some time — there are concerns as to which Spanish speaking groups may have already been impacted by information that was in error.
Determining if this was incompetency or malevolence by the Kansas Secretary of State’s office will not address the real problem: that for some time, Kansans have worked off of clearly bad information. The publication of documents certainly show that not all Kansans are treated equal — as errors on the English language side obviously did not occur, implying that at a minimum, more attention was paid to English language documents. The documents have remained on the front page of the Secretary of State’s website for some time, incorrect, while being published and relayed in a form that is also incorrect.
After all, whether it is Spanish or English, identifying the number “15” is different then the number “21” does not normally take someone who is bilingual.
The Kansas Secretary of State website has updated the Acrobat for Spanish, HOWEVER, while correcting the original paragraph noting issues around how many days, correcting to 21, the other errors, including the repeat of 15 remains, as well as the fact that passports are still not listed as a form of acceptable ID.
I’m providing links to the version from earlier today and now.
Earlier today (and printed/etc.) is HERE
Newly updated version is HERE
UPDATE (10AM, 4/8/2016):
I’ve spoken to the Kansas SoS office, they acknowledge the error. Craig McCullah notes that they are aware of it and working to fix, but they are unsure of how long the document has been produced by the Kansas Secretary of State, with him noting it was produced before he began work for the office. They have offered to provide details on when the document was created, how it was dispersed, and when it was published as soon as they are aware.
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