When we think of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), we tend to recognize him as an architect of harsh anti-immigration measures and a far-right advisor to other Republicans, including Mitt Romney, on the value of “self-deportation” policies. But as it turns out, that’s not all he’s interested in.
Miranda Blue reported the other day that Kobach is also a creative policymaker when it comes to voter-suppression technique.
Back in June, the Supreme Court struck down an Arizona elections law that required those registering to vote to show proof of citizenship beyond what is required by federal voter registration forms. In Kansas, Kobach has been struggling to deal with the implementation of a similar proof-of-citizenship law, which has left the voting status of at least 12,000 Kansans in limbo.
These voters, many of whom registered with the federal “motor voter” form at the DMV, were supposed to have their citizenship information automatically updated, a process that was delayed by a computer glitch. Kobach then suggested that these 12,000 voters be forced to cast provisional ballots – a suggestion that the state elections board rejected.
Now, the Lawrence Journal-World reports, Kobach has a new idea to deal with the problem that he created.
Kobach certainly deserves bonus points for thinking outside the box. Here’s his pitch: the Supreme Court has said states can’t simply add conditions to the federal voter-registration forms, and Kansas realizes there’s no way around that. But Kobach believes he can circumvent this “problem” by saying Kansans who register to vote with the federal forms will only be allowed to vote in federal elections.
If, however, Kansans want to also vote in state elections, they’ll have to register again, this time following his state-based requirements, including proof of citizenship.
In other words, if you’re a Kansas resident who wants to vote in a presidential race or for members of Congress, feel free to register using that regular ol’ form. But if you also want to vote in a gubernatorial election or for state legislators, you better be ready to play by Kris Kobach’s rules.
I’ll gladly let constitutional-law experts weigh in on this as they see fit – from my layperson’s perspective, it seems insane – but Kansans apparently have some concerns about the practicality of dual-track voter registrations.
Dolores Furtado, president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas, said she would strongly oppose such a plan.
“It won’t work,” Furtado said. “When we can’t handle registrations, the process of applications and processing registrations, how are we going to separate ballots?” she said. “This is creating a problem. Whenever we make things complex, people shun away.”
Also note, this is “creating a problem” for no reason. Kobach seems to think his scheme is necessary to prevent undocumented immigrants from participating in Kansas elections, but he has no examples of undocumented immigrants participating in Kansas elections.