Dale Weber had lost the documents that would prove he is a U.S. citizen and, he thought, the chance to vote again.
But with less than a week to go before the election, the Wichita man found himself on a phone call Wednesday with two of the state’s highest elected officials.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Attorney General Derek Schmidt — in their roles as members of the state election board — agreed that there was enough information to prove that Weber is a U.S. citizen. Records showed that both of his parents were born in the U.S.
That confirmation allows Weber to vote on Tuesday.
Kansas has a strict proof of citizenship law that has been criticized in court by the American Civil Liberties Union and limited by judicial orders. Attorneys for the ACLU have said the law has a chilling effect on voters.
Weber, however, said that he supported the strict requirement.
“It’s necessary to make sure that it’s just Americans that can vote,” he said. “I’m not trying to sound like a prejudiced man or anything, but you know, we got to stick to where it’s just American people voting.”
Five people, including Weber, have gone to the election board since 2013 to have their citizenship cases considered. All five were approved.
“They’re rare cases,” Kobach said. “I think it’s important for a state to have this safety net.”
A 2013 state law requires new Kansas voters to prove they are citizens.
Kobach’s office has confirmed that 7,179 people in Kansas who have not proved they are citizens are currently unable to vote in the general election.
That’s because they likely registered to vote using the state form, which requires proof of citizenship, like a passport or birth certificate.
Kobach said that group of voters has until Monday, the day before the election, to provide the required documentation.
Voters who registered to vote using the federal form, or at their local motor vehicles office, didn’t have to clear that same hurdle.
A series of recent court cases led to judicial action that allowed voters registering through certain federal means to avoid the Kansas law. Those actions, however, were temporary and only covered this election.