ACLU Sues Kansas Over Dual Voter Registration System

Affiliate: ACLU of Kansas
July 19, 2016 10:15 am

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TOPEKA, Kan. — The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a lawsuit challenging Kansas’ dual voter registration system, charging it violates the Kansas Constitution and state law.

The dual system prevents qualified Kansas voters from voting in state and local elections due solely to their method of registration. Secretary of State Kris Kobach received administrative approval last week of a temporary regulation aimed at formalizing this system, which a court has already declared violates state law.

“Secretary Kobach continues to seek ways to confuse and obstruct voters in Kansas. His flagrant disregard of the court’s findings means that Kansans still face unnecessary barriers to voting. We’re asking the court to immediately block the temporary regulation and to ultimately end this dual system once and for all,” said Sophia Lakin, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.

Shawnee County District Judge Franklin Theis last month reiterated that Kobach cannot stop Kansans from voting in state and local elections simply because they registered to vote using federal forms that don’t require the same onerous documentation that Kobach prefers.

The dual system would allow some Kansans to vote for federal offices, like U.S. senator and U.S. representative, but not for their state representative, state senator, or other state and local offices.

Thousands of voters are impacted, among them 90-year-old Army Air Corps veteran Marvin Brown, who registered to vote by submitting a complete federal form. He was later told that while he could vote in federal elections, he was prohibited from voting in state and local elections unless he showed additional documentary proof of citizenship.

“My family has been in Kansas since about 1850. It’s wrong that a bunch of so-called leaders would tell me that I have to show a bunch of extra documents before I can vote. As a military veteran who fought to protect our democracy, it’s particularly offensive,” he said.

At least 17,000 Kansans who registered to vote through the Division of Vehicles and were recently added to the voting rolls via a federal court order stemming from an ACLU lawsuit are affected as well.

“Secretary Kobach continues to place roadblocks in front of Kansas voters,” said Doug Bonney, legal director of the ACLU of Kansas. “The people of Kansas deserve better, which means ending these obstructionist, unconstitutional practices once and for all.”

The lawsuit, Brown v. Kobach, was filed in the Third Judicial District in Topeka.

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