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Kansas Board Rejects Voter Registration Change

A state regulatory board has rejected a proposed change to voter registration rules requiring Kansans to show proof of citizenship.

The rules took effect in January. Since then, around 12,000 voter registration applications have been missing citizenship documents. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach pushed for the citizenship law, and for the proposed rule change.

When a voter registration application doesn’t have the citizenship documents, it is put on hold, or what’s officially known as “suspense.” Kobach’s proposal would have allowed those suspended voters to cast provisional ballots. Kobach says the voters could then provide citizenship documents before the votes were counted.

“We were hoping to maximize the opportunity of voters to make their ballots count and to get their documents in in time,” says Kobach.

A state board rejected Kobach’s proposal.  Senator Vicki Schmidt, a Topeka Republican says it wouldn’t fix the underlying causes. She says the change would also mean suspended voters would be casting provisional ballots, and they may be confused as to whether those votes would be counted.

“Sadly, for these 12,000 plus individuals, it will not count unless they take further action,” says Schmidt.

Kobach can still pursue the rule change, but the process would take several months.

As the Kansas News Service managing editor, I help our statewide team of reporters find the important issues and breaking news that impact people statewide. We refine our daily stories to illustrate the issues and events that affect the health, well-being and economic stability of the people of Kansas. Email me at skoranda@kcur.org.
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