WICHITA, Kansas – While voters may not notice much of a difference when they head to the polls, what will happen behind closed doors could leave thousands of voters without a voice.
“If someone comes in states their name and address and they’re not in the poll books, they will go vote a provisional ballot, that’s the way it’s been for many years,” said Tabitha Lehman, Sedgwick county clerk.
But now with a two tiered system in place for voters, what happens after your ballot is cast will changing.
“We’re in this temporary situation where some voters will vote one way if they used the federal form while the vast majority of us who registered using the state form will vote a different way,” said Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
There are two ways to register – the federal form, or the state form. If you registered with the federal form- your vote will be counted by hand and only your vote for federal offices, like senate, will count. If you registered with the state form, but haven’t proven your citizenship- your entire vote is thrown out, but If you do prove your citizenship by August 4th, your vote for state office could be added back in. Elections officials check each provisional ballot with a list of verified voters provided by August 5th.
Thousands fall into the county of possibly having their votes tossed.
“Every single one of those 18,000 people can vote,” said Kobach, “All they have to do is finish their registration before election day, it’s really that simple.”
In Sedgwick county, more than 4,000 people fall into that category.
“If all 4200 of those people showed up at the polls, we would code their provisional but unless they provided that citizenship document and it was on that Kansas form, nothing would be different, we would not unseal that provisional envelope,” said Lehman.
Despite the arguments of disenfranchising voters that came from the ACLU and local voter advocacy groups, Kobach says that’s not the intent — and the goal is not to make a two tiered system, but uniformity all around.