The ACLU of Kansas is launching an election hotline it believes will help safeguard the voting process in light of efforts to restrict voter registration in the state.

The hotline will provide real-time assistance on Aug. 7, primary day, and on Nov. 6, general election day, said Mark McCormick, spokesman for the ACLU of Kansas.

People who are turned away from their polling place or who encounter harassment or other issues are encouraged to call the hotline. The statewide, nonpartisan hotline will be staffed by attorneys.

“We want every eligible voter to be able to vote, regardless of their party affiliation,” McCormick said.

The organization believes the hotline is particularly relevant given an ongoing legal battle between the ACLU and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach centered on voter registration.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson ruled that a Kansas law requiring new voters to prove citizenship was unconstitutional. Kobach also was found in contempt of court for failing to update information about voting regulations and to send postcards notifying voters they could participate in elections even if they didn’t show documents verifying citizenship.

Earlier this week, Kobach’s office took the first step in appealing Robinson’s finding.

“We feel like the hotline is necessary,” McCormick said.

Bryan Caskey, Kobach’s election director, said the secretary of state’s office has filed a report showing compliance with Robinson’s order.

Caskey said people who run into problems while voting should fill out a provisional ballot. He urged people to call the secretary of state’s hotline at 1-800-262-VOTE.

“We have the ability to fix things,” he said.

McCormick said the ACLU’s initiative includes on-site volunteers the day of the primary and general elections.

The effort is focused on areas with high populations, such as Shawnee County, and under-represented voters. That includes women, people of color and young voters — groups that, according to McCormick, endure the most suppression.

Voters with questions leading up to the election can leave a voicemail on the hotline and the call will be returned.

“Voting is one of the most important things we do as citizens and we want to make sure that all eligible voters get to exercise this sacred right,” said ACLU Foundation of Kansas executive director Micah Kubic. “Citizens actually participating makes our democracy stronger.”

The ACLU’s hotline can be reached at 866-OUR-VOTE.

For bilingual assistance in Spanish, call 888-VE-Y-VOTA. For assistance in Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Bengali, Hindu, Urdu and Tagalog, call 888-API-VOTE.

-Katie Moore, The Garden City Telegram

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