WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – Recent court decisions have made it a lot easier to vote in Kansas, but time is running out for people to register.
Wanna-be Kansas voters must be registered by Oct. 18 for the Nov. 8 general election.
At issue is the state law requiring potential voters to show proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers, when registering. The law drew court challenges, and after three temporary court orders – two from federal appeals courts and one from a Kansas judge – Secretary of State Kris Kobach has agreed to fully register some people who otherwise would not be able to vote. Under the rulings, people who register at motor vehicle offices and those who register using a federal form – instead of the state form – will be fully registered for all federal, state and local races this year without providing documents showing citizenship.
Here’s information to help navigate the process.
Q: I am not registered yet to vote in Kansas. How do I do that?
A: The easiest way to register is by using the National Mail Voter Registration Form, commonly called the “federal form.” It is available online from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission at http://bit.ly/2dcxN7A . Federal law also requires county election offices to make it available.
The federal form is simple and only requires you to swear that you are a U.S. citizen eligible to vote.
You can also register using the state’s voter registration form. If you use it, you will be required to produce documents showing that you’re a citizen.
If you register using the state form before the Oct. 18 deadline, Kansas will allow you up until the day before the election to take proof of citizenship to your local election office. You have 90 days from the time you sent in the application to provide a citizenship document. Otherwise Kansas discards your application and you have to start again.
Q: I think I’m registered, but I have no idea whether I used a federal or state form. How do I find out whether I can cast a ballot?
A: You can check to see if you are on the official voter rolls by going to the secretary of state’s website at http://bit.ly/2dqNckM . That official list is supposed to be updated soon to include the names of people who registered at motor vehicle offices or with the federal form without providing citizenship documents.
If you fall into this category, you should get in the mail soon a notification telling you about your right to vote in all races until further notice. At last count, roughly 20,000 Kansans were in that category.
But if you registered using the online form on the secretary of state’s website, you must provide documentary proof of citizenship to vote this November. Your application will be thrown out after 90 days without it.
You must also provide proof of citizenship if you registered through one of those voter registration postings on Facebook or other social media. The Sedgwick County election office, for example, received 2,300 registrations, mostly updates to current registrations, over two days due to those social media postings- but it says all of them are considered state form applications that require citizenship documents.
Q: My name is on the “suspense list” because of an incomplete application. What do I have to do so I can vote?
A: You must provide proof of citizenship – such as your birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers – to your county election office to complete your registration within the allotted 90-day period. You could also register using the federal form, which does not require documentary proof of citizenship.
As of last week, the secretary of state’s office had 5,415 Kansas voters on the suspense list for not providing the required citizenship document. Since the 90-day rule was instituted late last year, the state has tossed out at least 4,780 voter applications.
Q: I’m still confused. Can anybody else help me register to vote?
A: The non-partisan League of Women Voters has compiled voter resources on its website at http://bit.ly/2dSjyTJ .
The Kansas Democratic Party also uses the federal form to help register voters on its website at http://bit.ly/2dsJxTu . The state’s Republican Party has opted for now to leave voter registration efforts to county election offices.
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