ACLU Requests Further Updates To Kansas Secretary Of State’s Website
The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas says wording on a state website might leave voters confused about whether they’re eligible to cast a ballot. The group is asking Secretary of State Kris Kobach to change the site.
At issue is information on the state’s requirement that new voters prove their citizenship with a document such as a birth certificate or passport. Court rulings say that requirement currently doesn’t apply to people who register to vote at the DMV or use the federal voter registration form.
The secretary of state’s office updated wording on the site after questions from Kansas Public Radio about inconsistencies.
ACLU of Kansas Legal Director Doug Bonney says those changes weren’t enough. The group has sent Kobach a letter asking for further action.
“They’re going in the right direction, but it’s still not adequate,” Bonney says. “It’s misleading and doesn’t take into account the court orders we have from both state and federal judges.”
The group takes issue with a notice on the website. They say language included in the notice is strikingly similar to wording a federal judge previously said should be stricken from the page.
Federal Judge Julie Robinson in October ordered that this language be removed from the secretary of state’s website:
For elections that take place after the November 8, 2016, general election, it is at this time unknown whether you will be registered to vote depending on subsequent court rulings and should provide an acceptable form of proof of citizenship to your local county election office or to the Secretary of State to ensure future registration.
As of Wednesday, a notice on Secretary Kobach’s site included the following language:
In future elections, it is unknown whether you will be registered to vote depending on subsequent court rulings and should provide an acceptable form of proof of citizenship to your local county election office or to the Secretary of State to ensure future registration.
Bonney says the current language is too similar to what the judge said should be removed from the site.
“It still makes it seem like no matter how you register you have to provide proof of citizenship,” Bonney says. “That’s inconsistent with our federal court rulings.”
The ACLU is also asking for changes on forms mailed to people who have registered to vote but not provided a proof of citizenship document.
A spokeswoman for Kobach’s office, Samantha Poetter, says they have received the ACLU letter but have no comment.
Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio, a partner in the Kansas News Service.