Douglas County to pay cost of voters’ birth records to prove citizenship

07/10/2014 7:23 AM

07/10/2014 9:52 AM

A northeast Kansas county is trying to make it easier for people born in other states to get copies of their birth certificates so they can register to vote.

Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew said Wednesday that the county will pay for copies of birth certificate for a handful of people who can’t afford them.

Under state law, people born in Kansas are eligible for free copies of their birth certificates, while voters born in other states pay fees ranging from $10 to $60. Shew said the new policy addresses what he sees as an unfairness created by the Kansas statute that requires new voters to prove their citizenship, the Lawrence Journal-World reported (http://bit.ly/1zqhWW9 ).

“A large percentage of our citizens have made Douglas County their home though they were born in another state,” Shew said.

About 19,000 Kansas residents have incomplete voter registrations, because their proof of citizenship hasn’t been finished. They have until Aug. 4 to provide proof so they can cast a ballot in the Aug. 5 primary election.

In Douglas County, more than 600 people have registrations that are incomplete. Shew said his office has tried to contact all of the voters and identified about five people who couldn’t pay to get a copy of their birth certificate from another state.

“Even if it’s just those five, I think it’s important because every single voter should have the same access to the process as other voters in the county,” he said.

Shew said the office will pay the fee for voters who can’t afford it and his office’s current budget can cover the cost.

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