© 2023 KMUW
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Board Rejects Change To Voter Registration Citizenship Rules

A state board Tuesday rejected a proposed change to a law requiring Kansans to present proof of citizenship when registering to vote for the first time.

The temporary rule change was proposed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach in response to around 12,000 voter applications that have been put on hold. The change would have allowed people with pending voter registration applications to vote in elections, but the ballots could then only be counted if the required documents were presented.

Kobach said the proposal would give voters more time to provide the documents.

“We were hoping to maximize the opportunity of voters to make their ballots count and to get their documents in in time. And I would have thought that that would have been something that everyone could agree is a good idea,” Kobach said.

A state computer system was supposed to be able to transmit the citizenship information to election officials, but it's still not fully active. Senator Vicki Schmidt, a Topeka Republican, argued against the proposed change, saying it wouldn't fix the computer issues at the core of the problem.

“The Legislature passed the law in 2011 with assurances that the solution would be there, and now those solutions are not available,” Schmidt said.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and High Plains Radio covering health, education and politics.