WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas voters who registered using a national form without providing proof of U.S. citizenship will be given full provisional ballots during the Aug. 5 primary elections — but only the votes they cast in federal races will actually be counted, the state’s top election official said Tuesday.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach told The Associated Press that fewer than 100 Kansas voters who used the federal registration form without providing citizenship documents will be affected.
“No one is disenfranchised — any person can vote a full ballot by providing proof of citizenship,” Kobach said. “The notion a person is disenfranchised because they have to provide proof of citizenship is a silly one.”
As of Tuesday, more than 18,000 Kansans still had their voter registrations suspended pending documentation of citizenship. The vast majority used the state form to register, and they will still not be allowed to vote at all in the primary or general election unless they prove to state election officials that they are U.S. citizens.
The exception that allows the federal registrants to still vote in the August primaries for federal races comes because the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed a judge’s ruling that had forced federal election officials to help Kansas and Arizona enforce their citizenship requirements.
Kansas and Arizona are seeking to force the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to change its federal voter registration form for those states to include special instructions requiring citizenship documentation. In March, U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren agreed and ordered the commission to immediately modify its forms, but the 10th Circuit put that ruling on hold after the federal government appealed.
Opponents of proof-of-citizenship requirements contend that the added documentation results in an overall decrease in registration of eligible citizens, undermining the purpose of the National Voter Registration Act. The states argue the requirement protects the integrity of their elections by ensuring noncitizens aren’t voting.
Last week, the appeals court said it will hear oral arguments Aug. 25 in the case. But the hearing will take place after Kansas’ Aug. 5 primary election but a day before Arizona’s primary. Officials are hoping for a ruling from the appeals court before the November general elections.
Arizona election officials have said they are moving ahead with a two-tier election system allowing those who registered using the federal form and provided no documentation to vote only for federal offices. About 1,550 Arizona voters have registered using the federal form.
In Kansas, all voters will be getting the same ballot with all races on it, Kobach said. But county election officials will later go through their provisional ballots and only count the votes the federal registrants cast for the federal races and throw out any votes cast for state and local races. He likened it to the partial provisional ballots given to voters who vote in the wrong precinct.
The cost is minimal to Kansas because the state wouldn’t have to print two different ballots, and the only cost is the time required by county election officials to separate out the ballots from the federal registrants, Kobach said.
About 20 counties are expected to be affected during the primary election in Kansas.