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Kobach Seeks Authority To Create Two-Tiered Kansas Voting System

Stephen Koranda
KPR/File photo

Secretary of State Kris Kobach wants lawmakers to give him the authority to create a two-tiered voting system in Kansas. That would mean people who register to vote at the DMV and don’t provide a citizenship document, as required under state law, would only be allowed to vote in federal races.

Kansas voter registration laws still require proof of citizenship, but federal courts have ruled that the state can’t require such proof when people register to vote at the DMV or when they use a federal registration form. Kobach says that bypasses the state’s voter registration rules.

“This loophole not only creates the risk that non-citizens will cast votes in close local elections, it also turns the U.S. Constitution on its head. The states have the clear authority to decide who’s qualified to vote, not the federal government,” Kobach says.

Democratic Rep. John Carmichael doesn’t expect the idea to get much traction with lawmakers. He says people who register at the DMV are legally registered and should be allowed to vote in all races.

“It represents one more attempt to suppress votes in Kansas by our chief election officer. His job is to encourage voting and participation, not to disenfranchise lawfully registered Kansas voters,” Carmichael says.

Kobach previously created a two-tiered voting system, but a court later said he didn’t have the authority. Now, he's asking lawmakers to grant him that authority.