Fight over Kansas’ voter ID law heating up

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (AP Photo/John Hanna, File)

WICHITA, Kansas – The fight over whether the federal government must modify its voter registration form to cater to Kansas state law, requiring proof of citizenship, is far from over.

The fight began in 2011 – 2012 when Kansas’ voter ID law went into effect.

KSN spoke with Secretary of State Kris Kobach Monday about Tuesday’s deadline to respond to the latest appeals ruling. The Secretary of State told KSN he intends to meet the deadline.

“We will be filing a response motion of the defendant, the federal government, for a stay, in the sense… that’ll be filed with the tenth circuit tomorrow (Tuesday, May 13, 2014),” said Secretary of State Kobach.

A federal appeals court said last week that the law should remain on hold until it is decided in the courts.

Members of voter advocacy groups across the state of Kansas told KSN the ruling legal battle is a “mess,” and an unwarranted one, at that.

Louis Goseland, the campaign director of Kansas People’s Action, based in Wichita, believes the S.A.F.E. Act is a “solution in search of a problem” because he believes voter fraud is not an issue in the state. In fact, Goseland said it’s a “non-existent problem.”

“The only thing that Kris Kobach has to reference as a reason to impose this kind of restriction are 230 alleged cases that only resulted in one prosecution over a 15 year span of time… That’s tens of millions of ballots cast,” said Goseland.

Members of Kansas People’s Action also believe the S.A.F.E. Act creates expensive burdens on voters.

“We’ve got a backlog of 20,000 Kansans whose right to vote has been suspended, mostly because the state hasn’t been able to comply with this new requirement,” said Goseland.

Secretary of State Kobach believes the matter concerns states’ rights.

“The court decision reaffirms the right of the states to control qualifications for electors,” said Kobach.

KSN asked the Secretary of State if the S.A.F.E. Act discourages Kansans from voting. He responded: “People who are already registered don’t need to prove their citizenship under our law, so it really doesn’t distract from voting at all,” said Kobach.

He continued, “I think the photo I.D. part is already something that voters have already digested and are used to and they like, according to polls, and as far as the proof of citizenship part goes, that only affects newly-registered voters.”

Goseland continued, “What the S.A.F.E. Act has done is it’s created an obstacle that citizens have not been able to overcome in exercising their birthright as Americans.”

The latest concerning the appeals process allows that to date, voters can continue registering to vote in Kansas without having to document their citizenship. However, a state-issed I.D. is still required to cast a ballot.

The Kansas Democratic Primary will be held on Tuesday, August 5, 2014.

The Kansas Republican Primary will also be held on Tuesday, August 5, 2014.

The Kansas Midterm Election will be held on Tuesday, November 4, 2014.

For a list of citizenship documents required to vote, under the debated legislation, click here.

For more information on Kansas People’s Action, click here.

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