Thousands of wanna-be Kansas voters who thought they might not be able to cast ballots for president and other federal officials this year are now eligible to vote in them - but not in state or local races.
It's part of the latest fallout from lawsuits surrounding the state law that requires prospective voters to provide proof of U.S. citizenship - such as a birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers — when they register. Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is defending the law against multiple legal challenges.
Supporters of the law say it's important to make sure those who aren't U.S. citizens don't vote. Opponents say non-citizens aren't voting in significant numbers and the real result is making it harder for the poor, the young and the elderly - those who might have trouble getting documents - to vote.
There are so many legal challenges in play that it's hard to keep track of who can vote and under what circumstances.Last Tuesday, Kansas began registering people to vote who had not provided the proof of citizenship required under state law. The 10th Circuit refused to stay a decision holding that Kansas had to register those who registered on a federal form that did not require proof of citizenship, despite the state law requiring proof of citizenship:
Kansas cannot prevent thousands of eligible voters from casting ballots in the November federal election because they didn’t prove they were U.S. citizens when registering to vote at motor-vehicle offices, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling temporarily upholds a court order that required Kansas to allow those individuals to vote in federal elections even though they didn’t provide citizenship documentation when applying or renewing their driver’s licenses, as required under Kansas law. The state has said as many as 50,000 people could be affected.Kansas retains a two-tiered system for those who registered without using the federal form, but that system has been questioned by a state court ruling. The entire situation, and the resulting confusion, in Kansas shows how chaos can result when states' common sense measures to protect their elections are challenged in court.