State: Forms for free birth certificates will be available onlineBy RICK PLUMLEE
The Wichita Eagle
State officials say the required affidavit a person needs to obtain a free Kansas birth certificate one of the documents that can satisfy requirements for the new voter photo ID will be available online this week, about a month before Wichita holds a special election Feb. 28.
Last spring, the Legislature passed a proposal by Secretary of State Kris Kobach that requires a person to present a photo ID at the polls. A person does not need a birth certificate to get a photo ID; however, they could use one if they dont have any of the other 12 acceptable items to prove U.S. citizenship to get the ID.
In order to get a free birth certificate, and have the usual $15 fee waived, a person must fill out an application to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and sign an affidavit swearing they dont have any of the other 12 items and will use the birth certificate for the purpose of obtaining a voter photo ID or to register to vote, KDHE spokeswoman Miranda Steele said.
State officials were still working out the wording of that affidavit Friday, but they said it will be available online this week at KDHEs website kdheks.gov. The birth certificate application and signed affidavit should be mailed to KDHE, Office of Vital Statistics, 1000 SW Jackson, Suite 120, Topeka, KS 66612.
Steele said it takes three to five business days to process a birth certificate application after it is received in the office by mail. From the time it is mailed, that could mean a total turnaround of up to 10 days.
That should leave plenty of time for a person who wants to vote in the Feb. 28 election, said Kobach spokeswoman Kay Curtis.
A person can walk into KDHEs office and get the birth certificate the same day, Steele said. She added that KDHE has had only two inquiries about how to obtain the free birth certificate.
On Feb. 28, Wichita voters will decide whether to allow the city to use $2 million in subsidies for the planned Ambassador Hotel, a $22.5 million hotel proposed for the former Union National Bank building at Douglas and Broadway.
Birth certificate records are kept at a central location in Topeka, so a person cannot get those certificates at the Sedgwick County Election Office. But a person can obtain an application for a birth certificate at the election office, Suite 101 in the historic courthouse at 510 N. Main. Once the affidavits are available online, the election office could download one and print it out for a person, said Tabitha Lehman, county election commissioner.
A person would be responsible for mailing in the application and affidavit to Topeka.
Among the other items that can be used for proof of U.S. citizenship are a U.S. passport or a Bureau of Indian Affairs card number. Starting this week, a list of all 13 items will be available on one of the secretary of states websites www.gotvoterid.com, Curtis said.
To obtain a free photo ID, a person should take the birth certificate or other proof of citizenship to a Kansas Department of Motor Vehicles office. In Wichita that would be at Twin Lakes, 1823 W. 21st St. In Andover, go to 111 Central.
Proof of residency also is required to get a photo ID.
In order to waive the normal fee for an ID, which ranges from $12 to $22, a person must sign an affidavit swearing among other things that they are getting the photo ID for the purpose of voting and that they are registered to vote. That person would be issued a temporary photo ID, which is good for 60 days and will be accepted at the polls. A permanent ID is mailed from the state in 10 to 15 days.
Kansas voter registration laws remain the same this year, but starting in 2013 first-time voters will have to prove U.S. citizenship when they register. Deadline to register for the Feb. 28 election is Feb. 7.Reach Rick Plumlee at 316-268-6660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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