Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Lawsuit Targets Kansas Voter Law ; Voter: ACLU Lawsuit Weak, Kobach Says

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Lawsuit Targets Kansas Voter Law ; Voter: ACLU Lawsuit Weak, Kobach Says

Article excerpt

A new federal lawsuit charges thousands of Kansans seeking to vote while obtaining a driver's license have been illegally blocked, forced to provide proof of citizenship in violation of federal law.

The lawsuit, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, alleges workers at the Department of Revenue's division of motor vehicles locations are telling individuals applying or renewing their driver's licenses who want to register they must have proof of citizenship -- or are allowed to fill out a registration form and are later told they are on a suspended voter list.

The lawsuit targets Secretary of State Kris Kobach and revenue secretary Nick Jordan. The state's proof of citizenship requirement violates federal law, the lawsuit says.

The ACLU argues that any of the documents an individual needs to present to prove lawful residency in the U.S. are also sufficient for establishing citizenship under Kansas law. Yet thousands of individuals seeking first-time driver's licenses who have also attempted to register to vote are on the suspended voter list, the lawsuit says.

"What's happening in Kansas is outrageous," Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, said in a statement.

"Thousands of Kansans, including military veterans who have valiantly served our country, are blocked from voting by unnecessary bureaucratic roadblocks imposed by state officials. These shameful actions have made Kansas an epicenter of voter suppression. We say no more barriers. Let people vote."

Kobach said the claims made by the lawsuit have been raised before and he called the suit weak.

"The recent lawsuit filed by the ACLU is just another attempt to twist the words of federal law in order to achieve their political motives," Kobach said in a statement. "The claim that thousands of potential voters have been blocked from registering as a result of the Kansas proof of citizenship law is entirely false. …

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