Tens of thousands of people in Kansas have their voter registrations on hold. That means their votes won’t count until they get the situation resolved.
According to an analysis by the Associated Press, about 80 percent of these stalled registrations happened this year, largely at driver’s license offices. That’s because of a 2012 law requiring people to show proof of citizenship (birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers) when they register to vote. The law is intended to prevent non-citizens from voting.
Kansans are currently required to show proof of citizenship when they sign up for a new driver’s license, but not when they renew them. People who renew and then register to vote aren’t necessarily asked to show their documents, but they will later receive notification that they need to fax, email or take their documents to their local election offices.
County election officials are concerned about the high numbers of suspended licenses, says AP political writer John Hanna. They are afraid that large numbers of people will wait to submit proof of citizenship until just before the August or November 2014 elections. Some counties are sending out notices to people who still need to submit proof of citizenship, and in Johnson County, officials have set up robo-calls.
Some Democratic and civil rights organizations, including the NAACP and the ACLU, contend that requiring proof of citizenship suppresses registrations among poor, minority and student voters who are likely to support Democrats.
The AP’s analysis of this year’s suspended registrations shows that 57 percent are unaffiliated voters. Unaffiliated voters make up only 30 percent of Kansas’ registered voters.
The Department of Revenue is changing the procedure at driver’s license offices; employees will now scan citizenship documents if they are available at the time people register to vote. Some lawmakers say they will review the proof of citizenship requirements in the next legislative session.