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Kansas, Arizona at odds with rest of US
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The job of Barton County election officials is to follow the laws of the state, so if the Secure and Fair Elections (SAFE) Act says voter registrations are no good until the applicants show up at the courthouse wearing an I {heart} Kris Kobach T-shirt, then we’d better get our shirt orders in if we want to vote.
Of course, SAFE doesn’t go that far. Its intent is more noble: “to ensure that all voters are qualified to vote and make it more difficult to cast an illegal vote.”
It’s not known that anyone has been casting illegal votes, but the effect of the legislation is that it is also more difficult to cast a LEGAL vote.
This puts Kansas at odds with every other state in the nation, with the exception of Arizona. Both states now require people to show proof of U.S. citizenship when they register to vote.
States are also required to recognize the federal form available from the Department of Motor Vehicles – thanks to the 1993 “Motor Voter Act.” Those who register to vote when they get their license must affirm their legal citizenship but they don’t have to prove it. The Supreme Court has ruled that those who affirm citizenship on the form must be allowed to vote in federal elections. As a result, Kansas and Arizona now have, in theory, a “two-tier” voting system where some citizens can vote for president but not for a local school board member – or for Secretary of State.
In reality, folks will either be able to vote, or they won’t.
As of Jan. 9, Barton County had 315 people who have registered to vote, but can’t yet. According to the voter registration clerk at the courthouse, some failed to sign their application, or check all of the boxes. These applications are considered incomplete. But 200 of them won’t be complete until the applicant shows a birth certificate or some other proof of citizenship. Eighty percent (about 160 of the 200), filled out their voter registrations at the Department of Motor Vehicles. It seems unlikely than ANY of them are not legal citizens, but they weren’t carrying papers to prove it.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the League of Women Voters have filed lawsuits against Kansas and Arizona, calling for an end to the two-tier scheme. Secretary of State Kris Kobach doesn’t want two tiers, either. He wants the rest of the nation to change to conform with Kansas law. That way, many more confused, would-be voters won’t be able to vote, until they jump through the hoops.
Maybe we’re the ones who need to change.