In 2011, the Kansas legislature adopted a statute that requires citizens to produce documentary proof of citizenship (DPOC) before they can be registered to vote in Kansas. The DPOC requirement took effect on January 1, 2013. In June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in Arizona v. Inter-Tribal Council, that states could not require DPOC from citizens who register to vote using the federal voter registration form (federal form). Under the Supreme Court’s Inter-Tribal Council decision, states must allow citizens who use the federal form to vote in federal elections. But the Court said nothing about the right of federal form uses to vote in state and local elections. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach jumped into that gap by adopting a dual voter registration procedure, which would allow federal form users to vote in federal elections but not in state and local elections.
On November 21, 2013, lawyers from the ACLU of Kansas and the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project sued Secretary Kobach in state court arguing that the dual voter registration system violates the Kansas constitution’s provisions on equal protection and separation of powers and Kansas statutes providing for a single voter registration list and a uniform ballot. In August 2015, Shawnee County District Judge Franklin Theis denied Secretary Kobach’s motion for summary judgment. Then, in a final decision issued in January 2016, Judge Theis entered summary judgment for plaintiffs, holding that Kansas’s election laws do not permit Secretary Kobach to adopt a dual voter registration system.