Marge Ahrens
League of Women Voters of Kansas
The League of Women Voters of Kansas (LWVK, the League) summarizes the voting environment in Kansas:
The Secretary of State’s office eliminated the registrations of approximately 5,000 Kansas citizens who registered at places other than the DMV and did not provide documentary proof of citizenship (DPOC) with their voter registrations within 90 days. This ability to purge the list was a rule Secretary Kris Kobach sought and won in 2015.
At the end of September, LWVK requested a list of those purged registrants in order to notify them that they could register using the federal form before the Oct. 18 deadline. The Secretary of State’s office refused to share that list.
Approximately 7,000 registrations are currently “in suspense.” Those on the suspense list because they registered with a Kansas voter registration form or online through the Secretary of State’s office, and have not provided a proof of citizenship, have only until the end of Monday, Nov. 7, to provide proof of citizenship in order to make their vote count. They can carry it to their election office before the end of business on Monday, or submit it electronically before midnight.
National data analysis proves that a disproportionate number of young, poor, minority, and elderly people are barred from the right to vote by the DPOC requirement.
“Kansas suspense lists consistently indicate large numbers of young first-time voters did not have easy access to their documents,” said LWVK Co-president Marge Ahrens. “The S.A.F.E. Act is needlessly cumbersome and establishes barriers to the vote.”
In contrast, after a Federal court decision requiring Kansas to comply with the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), 11,245 Kansans easily registered to vote within three weeks. The goal of NVRA, also known as “Motor Voter,” is to register the most persons possible. The court decision prohibited Kansas from altering the Federal Voter Registration Form requirements.  These Kansans were allowed to vote using the Federal Form and not required to show citizenship documents.
However, major election offices across the state did not offer the federal form. In Johnson County, up until one day before the registration deadline, citizens were told to “get it online.” Most counties did not offer it at all. Many persons were deprived of the right to register by lack of computer access, confusion, and the needless complexity of Kansas election laws.
The Kansas photo ID requirement at the polls presents the same discrimination issues and costs associated with DPOC. One must acquire a copy of their birth certificate and travel to the local DMV to apply. Economic and racial data show that many minority and low-income citizens do not have drivers’ licenses because they do not have cars. Many elderly voters gave up driving long ago. The Department of Revenue reports no known applications for a free photo ID, a dishearteningly complex process.
The photo ID requirement is unnecessary. Voter impersonation and voter fraud are the last crimes that an undocumented person would attempt. There are in fact virtually no incidences of voter fraud of this type in the nation. The so called 25 “fraudulent”  applications in Sedgwick county over 13 years were not fraudulent. The persons in question had not checked the “citizen” box on their applications.
“No enhanced estimate of the numbers of fraudulent applications compares to the very real number kept at home on Election Day by the specious Kansas SAFE act,” said Ahrens.
The League collects stories of registration and voting difficulties and, may in some instances, provide guidance or help.
The League of Women Voters of Kansas