The ACLU today said it has given a 90-day notice to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach that it may sue if Kansas does not comply with federal voting law.
The ACLU letter sent to Kobach said thousands of Kansans have been prevented from registering to vote. About 14,000 voter registration applications have been held up, as they were submitted after the new requirement went into effect Jan. 1, 2013, according to the ACLU. They are about one-third of the total number of applications, an ACLU spokesman said.
The number of applications that were suspended are “huge” compared with the number formerly suspended, and the applications are from all over the state, no doubt including some in Wyandotte County, according to the ACLU.
Among the violations cited by the ACLU: Kansas has failed to register to vote thousands of applicants for driver’s licenses due to a faulty computer system. The applicants had complied with all requirements of the law, according to the ACLU.
The U.S. Supreme Court threw out a proof of citizenship law in Arizona in June. At the time, Kobach said he believed the Kansas law was written differently and would still stand.
“We disagree with Secretary Kobach on his interpretation of the Supreme Court decision,” said the ACLU’s Doug Bonney. “We think he’s wrong. We think it supports us.”
The ACLU was joined in this action by the League of Women Voters of Lawrence-Douglas County, the NAACP Kansas State Conference and Equality Kansas Inc.
“The right to vote is the fundamental building block for all other American freedoms, and Kansas’ unconstitutional proof-of-citizenship requirement is preventing thousands of Kansas citizens from completing the registration process for no good purpose. This notice is the first shot across the bow in our fight to protect the right to vote in Kansas,” Bonney said in a news release.
“When we take on a case, we’re ready to take it as far as it needs to go,” Bonney said.
The Kansas secretary of state issued a statement on the topic:
“We are reviewing the letter submitted by the ACLU. However, the ACLU and other organizations on the Left have made clear from the start that they oppose proof-of-citizenship requirements for voting and that they will attempt to prevent the State of Kansas from ensuring that only citizens are registered to vote. This letter therefore comes as no surprise.
"It should be noted that the ACLU’s letter incorrectly describes the Supreme Court’s opinion in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona. The Supreme Court did not hold that a state may not require proof of citizenship to register. Indeed, the Court stated, 'it would raise serious constitutional doubts if a federal statute precluded a state from obtaining the information necessary to enforce its voter qualifications.' 133 S.Ct. 2247, 2258-59 (2013). The State of Kansas takes the citizenship qualification seriously and will enforce it.”