League of Women Voters chapters are working to help about 20,000 Kansans whose voter registrations are stalled because of difficulties proving their citizenship to fix the problems in time to vote in the November elections.
A new state law requires Kansas voters to prove their citizenship by providing a birth certificate, passport or other identifying documents when registering to vote. The registrations are suspended until the voters can provide the proper documentation.
“That’s part of what we do,” said Cille King, president of the League of Women Voters of Lawrence-Douglas County. “We try to make them understand what they need to do.”
But King said the process is slow because many of the suspended voters are not returning telephone messages or emails from the organization, The Lawrence Journal-World reported.
“It takes a lot to get them off that list,” she said.
Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who led the effort to require proof of citizenship, said the law was necessary to prevent immigrants in the country illegally from voting. Critics contend the law is an effort to suppress voting among minorities and the poor, who often vote for Democrats.
Kobach has argued that it is not that difficult to provide proof of citizenship while registering to vote. He said people who are on the suspended list are contacted at least twice by county election officers, once by mail and once by phone.
King disagreed that compliance is easy.
“Some people are so busy just trying to provide a living for themselves and their family, and that one more thing they have to do is just too much. And some people, it is just apathy and they think it just doesn’t matter,” King said