Two years ago the Barton County Clerk’s office reported the registrations of more than 300 potential voters were on hold. This year, that number has been greatly reduced to thanks to a change in the law, according to Darin DeWitt, voter registration clerk in the Barton County Clerk’s Office.
A rule proposed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to toss out incomplete voter registrations after 90 days went into effect on Oct. 2, 2015. Since then, DeWitt said employees at the county clerk’s office have made doing that part of their routine.
The total number of so-called “suspense voters” as of Jan. 9, 2014, was 315. Two hundred of those registrations were pending because proof of citizenship had not been submitted. Of the remainder, 12 of the applicants were not yet 18 years old, and 103 had submitted incomplete applications.
DeWitt said clearing the books of incomplete registrations has freed up space on the county computers and made it easier to manage the records. Because 2015 was not an election year, there were no issues of people attempting to vote, only to learn their registrations had been canceled.
Instead, several incomplete registrations were completed.
“We try to give notice two times,” he said.
The Kansas Division of Vehicles allows residents to submit their application of voter registration when they apply for a driver’s license or ID, or change of address. That makes it easy to apply, and many do, but the registration isn’t official until it’s complete and the person is at least 18 years old. Those registering to vote for the first time in Kansas are also required to submit proof of their U.S. citizenship, such as a birth certificate, U.S. passport or U.S. naturalization document.
“We’ve had some that did come in and do that,” DeWitt said. His office has also had some of the letters that it mailed to addresses provided to the DMV come back as undeliverable.