Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Last Call For Not (Voting) In Kansas Anymore, Toto

Kansas's new Voter ID law is making things very difficult for thousands of Kansans trying to register to vote.  As part of the new law, anyone registering to vote after Jan 1 of this year must show proof of citizenship, either a passport of birth certificate.  If that sounds familiar, it's the same unconstitutional provision that was struck down by a federal court in Arizona's Voter ID law.

Lee Albee never thought signing up to vote would be so cumbersome.

Earlier this year, the Overland Park man registered to vote when he renewed his license at the motor vehicle office. It was supposed to be easy. It wasn’t.

Weeks later, the Johnson County election office notified Albee he needed to prove citizenship — with a birth certificate or a passport — if he wanted to register.

As it turned out, no one had asked him for those documents at the DMV office. Now he doesn’t have the time to follow up.

“They’re making it incredibly difficult,” Albee said. “It’s a pain in the tush.”

Albee is among 15,622 Kansans who had their voter registrations set aside until they can prove their citizenship under a new Kansas law that started this year. About 30 percent of those suspended registrations were in Johnson, Wyandotte and Leavenworth counties.

Most of the hiccups occur at the state’s motor vehicle offices, where drivers complain they aren’t being asked for citizenship documents when they register to vote. Almost nine in 10 of the voters who had their registrations suspended signed up to vote at the DMV.

If Kansas Republicans are trying to make things as difficult a possible for new voters to register, well, that's the entire point.  New voters -- young Americans just turning 18, new legal immigrants, people moving into the suburbs of Kansas City (like say, relatively blue Johnson, Wyandotte, and Leavenworth counties) -- tend to vote for Democrats.

As with Arizona, the ACLU is going right after the law.

The American Civil Liberties Union is threatening to challenge the law, saying it’s essentially identical to an Arizona law that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled was unconstitutional.

“What this law has done has made it very difficult for ordinary citizens to get registered to vote even though they’re citizens,” said Doug Bonney, chief legal counsel for the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri.

Meanwhile, Kobach is fighting back, filing his own lawsuit aimed at bringing the Kansas law into compliance with the Supreme Court’s decision.

Kobach said the law was written to ensure that it wouldn’t hinder people from registering to vote.

There’s nothing difficult at all,” he said, “about proving your citizenship if you are a U.S. citizen.”

Except you know the cost for documents and the time to get them.   The hope is that new voters will give up, and grandfathered in Kansas Republicans will continue to vote Republican.  Can't have the state turning blue, you know.

Once again, Republicans seem to think the fewer people who vote, the better.  As long as the people voting are, of course, Republican voters.

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