TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new rule issued by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach requires incomplete voter registrations to be resolved within 90 days or be canceled.
Kobach said Thursday the rule will improve efficiency and save money for county election officials who repeatedly try to contact people with incomplete applications.
More than 35,000 voter registration applications are “in suspense” because registrants haven’t provided a passport or birth certificate to prove their U.S. citizenship, The Kansas City Star reported. The new rule would remove about 30,000 of them if they’re not completed in 90 days, requiring those people to file new registration forms.
Voting rights groups have lodged vigorous objections to the time limit, which goes into effect Oct. 2. Proof-of-citizenship documents have been required since January 2013, but until now there had been no limit on how long county election officials had to keep incomplete registrations.
“It really violates the spirit of what our nation, our Constitution, was built on — the participation of all,” Marge Ahrens, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas, said. “It feels so disrespectful of Kansans.”
Kobach has argued the 90-day limit isn’t a hardship, noting that two states with similar laws have shorter deadlines. It’s not difficult to obtain the documents and present them to election officials, which can be done electronically, he said.
The long list of incomplete registrations is an embarrassment to Kobach, who championed the proof-of-citizenship requirements, according to Doug Bonney, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas.
“That’s disappointing because 90 days just isn’t sufficient to allow busy people to correct the deficiencies in their voter registrations,” Bonney said.
The ACLU will review the rule and will consider whether filing a lawsuit is appropriate, he said.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.