Election 2014: A New Class System for Kansas Voters?

Oct 8, 2013

Credit bloomberg.com

Court action over the state’s proof-of-citizenship voting law is pending, but Secretary of State Kris Kobach is not waiting for a ruling.  He’s laying groundwork for a system that would allow some voters to vote in all elections, while others could only vote for Congressional and presidential tickets according to a recent article in The Wichita Eagle.

Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita is an opponent of the proof-of-citizenship law.  Ward says he received confirmation from the Department of Legislative Research recently that Kobach is moving forward with the plan to limit voters who follow federal registration rules to voting only in federal elections.

Kobach says the “bifurcated” registration system is a fallback position in case he loses a court challenge against the Election Assistance Commission, a federal agency created to streamline voting that sets rules and publishes the federal registration form.

The plan creates three classes of registered voters, according to the Legislative Research report recently provided to Ward:

  • Voters using either the federal or Kansas form and providing state-required documents proving their citizenship would be able to vote in all federal, state and local elections.
  • Voters who use the federal form but don’t provide citizenship documents will be allowed to vote only for candidates running for president, vice president and Congress.
  • Registrants who file a Kansas form but don’t provide citizenship documents will be put in suspension and won’t be allowed to vote in any election.

State county election officials received a memo outlining procedures for identifying and tracking voters who use the federal form and creating a separate category for them in voting databases.

The Kansas County Clerks and Election Officials Association has not taken a stand at this time on Kobach’s instructions for separating out the voters who use federal forms, said Sharon Seibel, the county clerk of Ford County. 

“Hopefully, there will be some resolution to all this” before next year’s statewide elections, Seibel said.  She declined to share an opinion on the Kobach plan, saying it would be irrelevant.

“I’m a county election official, I will abide by the law,” she said.