On Eve of Contempt Hearing, Kansas’ Kris Kobach Agrees to Concessions in ACLU Voting Rights Lawsuit

Affiliate: ACLU of Kansas
September 29, 2016 12:30 pm

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TOPEKA, Kan. — On the eve of being hauled into federal court for contempt, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has agreed to add thousands of eligible voters to the election rolls and properly notify them that they are registered.

The action stems from an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit filed on behalf of Kansans who tried to register to vote via the state Division of Vehicles but were illegally forced to provide additional documentation. A federal judge previously ordered Kobach to add the estimated 18,000 motor-voter applicants to the rolls. He responded by agreeing to count their votes, but failed to give them written notice that they are registered or put their names on the state’s registration website. He also refused to provide them with regular ballots for the August primary, instead giving them provisional ones.

The ACLU demanded Kobach fix these problems for the November election, which Kobach refused to do — until today — just one day before having to explain to a judge his continuing defiance of the court order.

“Our case is ongoing, but this interim agreement is a critical victory for Kansans who want to vote in the November election. It is a shame that voters had to fight so hard to get Kris Kobach to do his job,” said ACLU attorney Orion Danjuma.

Under the interim agreement announced today, Kobach will ensure all voters who registered at a DMV office or used a federal registration form are provided written notice that they are registered to vote for federal, state, and local elections this November; put their names on the state’s registration website so that they can verify they are registered and find their correct polling place; and give them regular ballots instead of provisional ones.

In the 70 counties that use electronic poll books, affected voters will be treated like any other registered voters, but in the minority of counties that use paper poll books (including Sedgwick County), affected voters’ names will be listed in a supplemental poll book.

“This is not perfect, but it is a massive improvement from the August primary,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.

Late last week, a state judge also ordered Kobach to stop obstructing voters and allow them to vote in federal, state, and local elections, and to properly inform them that they are registered. That order is here.

The interim settlement agreement is at: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/fish-v-kobach-joint-status-report

More information about this case is at: https://www.aclu.org/cases/fish-v-kobach

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