ACLU files lawsuit challenging Kansas voter registration system

ACLU files lawsuit challenging Kansas voter registration system

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[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU [advocacy website] on Thursday filed a lawsuit [petition, PDF] in Shawnee County District Court [official website], challenging Kansas’ two-tiered voter registration system. The US Supreme Court [official website] has ruled that laws requiring proof of citizenship for federal elections are unconstitutional, but it has preserved the states’ rights to control who will vote in state and local elections. Kansas has set up a two-tiered voter registration system, which requires voters to show proof of citizenship to register to vote in local and state elections. The ACLU petition charges that eligible voters are being divided into separate and unequal classes [ACLU press release], in violation of the Kansas Constitution’s equal protection guarantees.

The Kansas Secretary of State has, without statutory authority and without engaging in mandatory requirements for administrative rulemaking, unilaterally established an unprecedented and unlawful voter registration system that divides registered voters in Kansas into two separate and unequal classes, with vastly different rights and privileges (the “dual 2 system”), based on nothing more than the method of registration that a voter uses and the date on which the voter submits the form.

Arizona has adopted a similar two-tier voter registration system in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett [official profiles] filed a complaint in August in the US District Court for the District of Kansas [official website] demanding that the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) [official website] modify federal voter registration forms to allow states to require proof of citizenship. The two-tier system in question allows voters who use the National registration form, which does not require proof of citizenship, to vote only in national elections. Voters must use the Kansas voter registration form in order to be eligible to also vote in local and state elections. Kobach lists “Stopping Voter Fraud” as the number one issue on his platform [personal website] on his political website.