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Kansas board rejects Kris Kobach’s voter registration fix

Kobach
Kobach DAVID EULITT

A state regulatory board on Tuesday rejected Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s proposal to allow some 12,000 residents in a suspended state of voter registration to participate in upcoming elections.

The change would have allowed residents who have yet to provide proof of citizenship to county election officials to cast provisional ballots in upcoming special elections. Residents would be required to show proof of citizenship before the election was certified.

Kansas enacted a law in 2011 requiring residents to provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote starting Jan. 1, 2013. A new state computer system that was supposed to provide that verification to the secretary of state’s office hasn’t started sending the information to election officials.

Sen. Vicki Schmidt, a Topeka Republican and member of the state Rules and Regulations Board, said the temporary fix would not solve the problem and those casting provisional ballots would have the added burden of proving citizenship before the elections were certified for their votes to count.

“I don’t believe a large percentage of the population knows what casting a provisional ballot means,” Schmidt said. “They believe it is going to count. Sadly for these 12,000-plus individuals, it will not count unless they take further action, and I think that is disingenuous at best.”

Provisional ballots are allowed under Kansas law when election officials detect an error, such as a mistake in a voter’s address, voting in a wrong precinct or failing to show valid photo identification. Those errors can be corrected up until county elections are certified and sent to the secretary of state.

Kobach sought the proof of citizenship requirement to reduce the instances of voter fraud in the state and to make elections more secure.

Spokeswoman Jeannine Koranda said the issue occurs when residents come in to renew a license, change their address or name and register to vote at the same time.

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