Judge rules for Kobach on voter registration

TOPEKA, Kansas – A Kansas judge has cleared the way for Secretary of State Kris Kobach to use a dual voting system to enforce the state’s proof-of-citizenship for new voters.

“It was a good ruling for the state, and the state procedures will go into effect as planned for the upcoming primary election,” Kobach told KSN. “For the vast majority of voters, it’ll be the same voting experience they’ve had in the past.”

Shawnee County District Judge Franklin Theis on Friday denied the American Civil Liberties Union’s request for a preliminary injunction to stop Kobach from implementing a new policy.

Under that policy, Kansans who used a national form to register without providing proof of citizenship will be able to complete full ballots in the Aug. 5 primary – but only their votes in U.S. House and Senate will be counted. The national registration form does not require documentation of citizenship.

As part of the ruling, those voters registered through a federal form without proof of citizenship will be given a special notice that only their votes for federal elections in the August primary will count.

“That’s very important because one of the things we brought this suit for was that the Secretary of State’s bifurcated election system treats federal form users differently,” Doug Bonney, of the Kansas ACLU, said.

Voters who registered using the Kansas state form without providing proof of citizenship will have none of their ballots counted. The voters who registered with a federal form and no proof of citizenship will be instructed to use provisional ballots, which could cause more work for county elections officials.

“Basically, it’s going to create more provisional voting for the voters, and more work after the election,” Jana Jenkinson, the Kearny County clerk, said. “There’s so many new laws right now that you know, we’re just trying to process each and every one of them, figure them out and make sure that we apply them correctly to our counties.”

This ruling could still be impacted by a lawsuit Kansas and Arizona have before a federal appeals court, in which the states are suing the federal government to get their states’ rules on the federal form. A ruling from that court is not expected for some time.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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