For Immediate Release
ACLU Threatens Legal Action if Kansas Fails to Comply With Federal Voting Law
KANSAS CITY - The American Civil Liberties Union today put Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach on notice that it will take legal action if the state does not comply with federal voting law.
ACLU national and the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri sent a letter to Kobach saying the state's failure to adhere to the National Voting Registration Act has prevented thousands of Kansans from registering to vote. More than one-third of voter registration applications submitted in Kansas this year – approximately 14,000 – are being held in "suspense," essentially in limbo, by the state.
Kansas has a documentary proof-of-citizenship law essentially identical to an Arizona law struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in June. That Arizona measure required those registering to vote to show documentary proof of citizenship beyond what is required by federal voter registration forms. In Kansas, however, many of those who are seeking to register have complied with the state's proof-of-citizenship requirement, but have still ended up in suspense.
"Kansans are simply trying to exercise their constitutional right to vote. This is the most fundamental freedom we have as Americans, yet Secretary of State Kobach is blocking thousands upon thousands of Kansans from their rightful participation in the political process. This is un-American, unconstitutional and must end immediately," said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project.
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. These are people who have fully complied with all legal requirements for both driver's licenses and voter registration. Kansas has also defied the Supreme Court's ruling in the Arizona case by continuing to demand documentary proof of citizenship from individuals applying to register with the federal voter registration form. These unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles have deprived thousands of Kansans of their right to register to vote.
"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," said Doug Bonney, legal director of the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri.
The state has 90 days to comply with federal law before facing legal action.
The letter was sent by the ACLU on behalf of several individuals and the NAACP Kansas State Conference, the Lawrence and Douglas County League of Women Voters, and Equality Kansas, Inc.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.