ALL NEWS

Kansas hopes to resurrect proof-of-citizenship voting law in Salt Lake Court

Mar 18, 2019, 5:21 AM

FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2018 file photo, then Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach responds to que...

FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2018 file photo, then Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach responds to questions from reporters in Topeka, Kan. An appeals court in Salt Lake City, will consider Monday, March 18, 2019, the constitutionality of a struck down Kansas statute that had required people to provide documents proving U.S. citizenship before they could register to vote. (AP Photo/John Hanna, File)

(AP Photo/John Hanna, File)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A federal appeals court will hear arguments Monday over the constitutionality of a struck-down Kansas statute that had required people to provide documents proving their U.S. citizenship before they could register to vote.

In a case with national implications for voting rights, Kansas faces an uphill battle to resurrect the law once championed by former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach , who led President Donald Trump’s now-defunct voter fraud commission.

A three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocked Kobach in 2016 from fully enforcing the law, calling it “a mass denial of a fundamental constitutional right.” The issue is back before the appellate court after U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson struck it down last year and made permanent the earlier injunction.

“Kansas was the tip of the spear of an effort to make it harder for people to register under the guise of protecting elections from a nonexistent epidemic of noncitizen voting. Those efforts haven’t stopped as this case illustrates, and I think this case will be closely watched,” said Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Voting Rights Project.

The legal fight has drawn national attention as Republicans pursue voter ID laws they say are aimed at people who are unlawfully in the country. Critics contend such efforts amount to voter suppression that target Democratic-leaning minorities and college students who may not have such documentation.

Kobach, a conservative Republican, was a leading source for Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that millions of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally may have voted in the 2016 election.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in an emailed statement that the statute was enacted by large bipartisan majorities in the Legislature.

“The Legislature is free to repeal the statute if it is no longer favored, but as long as the law requiring documentary proof of citizenship to register to vote remains on the books, we think it, like other duly enacted state laws, deserves a full and vigorous legal defense,” Schmidt said.

Kansas argued in court filings that it has a compelling interest in preventing voter fraud. It contended its proof-of-citizenship requirement is not a significant burden and protects the integrity of elections and the accuracy of voter rolls.

Critics countered that the documentary proof-of-citizenship law was “a disastrous experiment” that damaged the state’s voter rolls, disenfranchised tens of thousands and eroded confidence in the state’s elections.

The National Conference of State Legislatures has counted 35 states that have laws requiring some form of identification at the polls, but the Kansas voter registration statute at issue goes further by requiring people to provide documents such as a birth certificate, U.S. passport or naturalization papers before they can even register to vote. Arizona is the only other state with a similar law in effect, but it is far more lenient and allows people to satisfy it by writing their driver’s license number on the voter registration form. Proof-of-citizenship laws in Alabama and Georgia are not currently being enforced.

Judge Robinson found that between 1999 and 2013 a total of 39 noncitizens living in Kansas successfully registered, mostly due to applicant confusion or administrative error. That is .002 percent of the more than 1.76 million registered voters in Kansas as of Jan. 1, 2013. Eleven of those 39 noncitizens voted.

The registration law took effect in January 2013. In the three years before the appellate court put it on hold, more than 30,732 Kansans were not allowed to register to vote because they did not submit proof of citizenship. That figure represented about 12 percent of voter registration applications.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

All News

A lone American flag waves in the morning breeze Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2002, at the Bonneville Salt F...

Allessandra Harris

Water may be the solution to saving the salt flats

With the Bonneville Salt Flats eroding, newly discovered research may have found a way to save them.

9 hours ago

pay gap...

Curt Gresseth

Why is the gender pay gap not closing?

The gender pay gap in the U.S. and Utah is not closing. A Utah financial planner details the impact that wage shortfall can have on a women workers over a career.

10 hours ago

kevin and michael bacon performing, they'll stop in utah in June...

Sam Herrera

Kevin Bacon to stop in Utah this summer with Bacon Brothers band

Kevin Bacon and his brother Michael will stop by Utah this June to take part in Lehi's Round-Up concert as the Bacon Brothers band.

11 hours ago

fighter jet...

Sam Herrera

High-altitude balloon intercepted over Utah

After intercepting the balloon over Utah airspace, NORAD found that the balloon didn't pose a threat but said that they would keep tracking it.

11 hours ago

a rending of what a MLB baseball stadium in salt lake would look like...

Adam Small

Utah House committee advances bill aimed to help bring MLB stadium to Salt Lake

Utah residents are excited, and concerned, about the advancement of a bill meant to get a Major League Baseball stadium to Salt Lake City.

12 hours ago

jeff hunt speaks to a class about public access to government...

Amanda Dickson

The public would have less access to government records under proposed law

A bill that tackles public access to government comes after state AG Sean Reyes denied KSL access to his daily calendar.

13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Kansas hopes to resurrect proof-of-citizenship voting law in Salt Lake Court