WICHITA — The American Civil Liberties Union made public on Thursday a letter that seeks to force Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to fix what it says are inaccuracies on public notices posted on state and county websites regarding voter registration.
Its letter says that under court decisions, people who register to vote at motor vehicle offices or who use a federal form do not need to provide proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or passport. But the ACLU contends the state's website and the websites of some counties continue to erroneously tell voters such documents are required.
Kobach’s spokesman, Moriah Day, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Preliminary injunctions issued in two federal cases have found that motor voter registrants and people who use the national voter registration form do not need to provide citizenship documentation such as a birth certificate, U.S. passport or naturalization papers in order to vote. Final judgment in those cases is still pending, and the ACLU and Kobach have repeatedly sparred over public notices since the temporary rulings were issued.
U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson found Kobach, a candidate for Kansas governor, in contempt of court last month in a lawsuit challenging a Kansas law requiring proof of U.S. citizenship to register to vote.
The ACLU sought the contempt ruling after Kobach refused to update the state’s election guide or ensure that county officials sent postcards to residents who registered at driver licensing offices without providing citizenship documents. The postcards contain basic voting information such as a voter’s polling place.
At issue in this latest dustup between Kobach and the ACLU is a notice on the Secretary of State’s website that states a person must submit documentary proof of citizenship if they are registering for the first time in Kansas. A document on voter registration drives on the site also makes no mention that voter registration drives may be conducted using the federal form, which does not require such documents. And links to some voter information documents on the state site say the file is unavailable.
Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s voting rights project, asked Kobach in his letter to issue written instructions to county officials that notices clearly state that motor voter and federal form applicants are exempt from the document requirements for registration. He also wants Kobach to similarly correct the state webpages by Friday, May 18.The ACLU’s letter also takes aim at what it calls incorrect information on county webpages in Douglas, Riley and Crawford counties, which also tell voters they are required to submit proof of citizenship documents without referencing that motor voter applicants and federal form users are exempt from the requirement.
“We hope that these simple issues can be resolved without judicial intervention, but will avail ourselves of all legal remedies necessary if your office continues to fail to adhere to its responsibilities under the preliminary injunctions,” Ho wrote.