What you need to know about the new proof of citizenship requirement

TOPEKA (KSNT) — If you’re not registered to vote for the upcoming presidential election yet, there’s now one more step Kansans will have to complete: proof of citizenship.

It’s something Kansas residents have had to show when registering to vote since 2013, but up until now, that’s only applied to when filling out this state form.

“A loop hole that had existed where if someone used the federal form, but didn’t want to provide proof of citizenship, they would have been authorized to vote in federal elections only,” said Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Local election officials say the difference in rules for each of these forms could easily cause confusion.

“They might think they were registered for every race, but would only be able to vote on federal races if they registered under the federal card,” said Andrew Howell, the Shawnee County Election Commissioner.

Kobach has been pushing to change the federal rules, he says, to better protect voting rights.

Just this week a federal election official granted that request.

That means if you go to your local election office to register to vote, you now need proof of citizenship to register in both state and federal elections.

“In some ways I think it makes it easier for people because new there aren’t questions about the different ways to register and what you might be eligible to vote on,” said Howell.

Voting rights activists strongly disagree.

“So there’s no question that these sorts of additional requirements, these additional obstacles to getting people registered, decrease participation in elections,” said Micah Kubic, Executive Director of ACLU of Kansas.

That decision may still be legally challenged, but for now be prepared to show a birth certificate, passport or naturalization document if you plan on registering.

Anyone who’s already registered to vote doesn’t need to worry.

If you don’t have proof of citizenship at the time you register, state law allows you up to 90 days to provide the correct documents.

After that your record will be purged and you’ll have to re-submit the forms.

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