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The Right-Wing's Despicable New Voter Suppression Scheme

Kansas and Arizona are trying to create two classes of voters.

Kris Kobach, Kansas' Voter Suppressor in Chief
Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons


The man who wrote  Arizona's "Papers Please" law before running for Kansas Secretary of State in 2010 on the premise of stamping out "voter fraud" there ... before winning and subsequently  not being able to find much, if any of it, at all, is nonetheless still at work attempting to keep legitimate voters from being able to cast their vote under the premise that thousands of non-citizens are somehow, secretly, illegally voting in the state of Kansas.

"In Kansas, the illegal registration of alien voters has become pervasive," Kris Kobach's personal website still reads today. He just can't seem to find any.

Despite that annoying little truth, he now has a new plan to try and keep those "alien voters" from voting, even if it involves keeping 17,500 or more perfectly legal U.S. citizen residents of Kansas from voting as well...

Last month, we explained how Kobach's new law, requiring proof of citizenship in order to register Kansans to vote, had left  more than 15,000 otherwise legal voters in limbo.

Voters who had registered to vote using the federal registration form --- as mandated by the  National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA or "Motor Voter Act", since it requires local government facilities, such as DMVs, to provide a nationally standardized voter registration form) --- are now being blocked by Kobach from voting in KS, unless they have been able to prove their citizenship to the satisfaction of a new state law written by Kobach and passed by state Republicans last year.

That new proof-of-citizenship law took affect at the beginning of this year and has resulted in thousands of previously legal voters becoming "suspended" until such time as they present documentation to prove they are citizens. The burden is now on them to prove they are innocent, rather than on the state to prove they have broken any laws. If they don't, according to Kobach, they will not be allowed their right to vote.

Over the summer, however, the  U.S. Supreme Court struck down the portion of Arizona's version of the law, where they were similarly attempting to keep voters who used the national registration form from being able to vote unless they later provided proof of citizenship. The national form requires registrants to sign an oath, under penalty of perjury, attesting that they are U.S. citizens, but it does not require actual documentation, as required under the AZ and KS laws.

The Court determined that barring voters under such state laws is unconstitutional, but found that AZ has a right to petition the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to add that requirement to the federal form, if they like. Until then, however, states cannot deny voters the right to vote simply because they used the federal form to register.

Arizona and Kansas are now in court, attempting to require the EAC to add that requirement. But Kobach is reportedly laying the groundwork for what to do if he loses that court case.

According to the Wichita Eagle --- which pegs the number of currently "suspended", but otherwise legal voters at 17,500 --- Kobach's plan involves creating several different classes of voters: some who can vote in all elections, others who can vote in only federal contests, and still others who will not be allowed to vote at all...

The plan creates three classes of registered voters, according to the Legislative Research report provided to [Democratic state Rep. Jim] Ward on Thursday:
  • Voters using either the federal or Kansas form and providing state-required documents proving their citizenship would be able to vote in all federal, state and local elections.
  • Voters who use the federal form but don’t provide citizenship documents will be allowed to vote only for candidates running for president, vice president and Congress.
  • Registrants who file a Kansas form but don't provide citizenship documents will be put in suspension and won't be allowed to vote in any election.

As the  Eagle notes, "The citizenship requirement is separate from Kansas' requirement that voters provide photo ID at the polls. While most people use their driver's license for that, it's generally not sufficient proof to register to vote in Kansas."

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