Kansas is the epicenter of this movement to undermine the right to vote. Secretary of State Kris Kobach has created many new restrictions on voting in Kansas, making it harder for eligible citizens to register to vote and to cast a ballot. Sec. Kobach convinced the Kansas Legislature to pass the nation’s most restrictive voter registration requirement. That “papers please” requirement forced eligible citizens to produce a birth certificate, passport, or similar document in order to register. Tens of thousands of Kansans either struggle to find those documents, or simply do not have them. Since they cannot produce a piece of paper, they are prevented from registering and are disenfranchised. Just three other states have a similar requirement; all adopted it after being prompted by Sec. Kobach and none enforces it as harshly as Kansas does.
In June 2018, a federal district court struck down these illegal voter restrictions related to citizenship documents in Fish v. Kobach, a lawsuit brought by the ACLU.
In addition, Sec. Kobach has tried to stop eligible citizens who use federally-issued voter registration forms or who register to vote at motor vehicle offices from voting in state and local elections. He has argued that those eligible citizens should only be allowed to vote in federal elections—not state and local ones, like for governor or the state legislature—even though a judge has ruled that the Secretary of State does not have the authority to set up such a system.
Our Let Kansas Vote! Campaign focuses on four major initiatives:
- The ACLU of Kansas mounted a vigorous legal challenge on restrictions on the right to vote. Read more about our lawsuits against Sec. of State Kris Kobach and the state’s illegal, unnecessary efforts to limit voting rights here.
- We are engaged in advocacy at the Kansas Legislature to repeal restrictions on the right to vote, including the so-called “documentary proof of citizenship” requirement and photo ID requirements that make it harder for people of color, students, and the elderly to register and vote.
- We are mobilizing Kansans to bring election day registration to Kansas. Learn more about election day registration, and what it can do to improve voter turnout and civic engagement.
- We are building support among Kansans for the federal government to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which will protect the right to vote across the United States. The Act would stop Kansas and other states from passing new voting laws that are discriminatory or suppress the vote. Read more about the Voting Rights Advancement Act here.