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Kansas officials: DMV-elections portal won’t be ready by January

  • Eagle Topeka bureau
  • Published Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, at 7:43 p.m.

— A new system that links state DMV offices to county elections offices to help people register to vote in Kansas won’t be up and running when the state’s new proof-of-citizenship law starts in January, state officials said Tuesday.

The lack of connection between the two state agencies led state lawmakers to reject an effort earlier this year by Secretary of State Kris Kobach to have the proof-of-citizenship law go into effect this summer to verify the residency of the surge of voters expected to register before the Nov. 6 presidential election.

Donna Shelite, director of vehicles for the state Department of Revenue, said the portal that automatically sends documents from DMVs to election offices won’t be ready until spring 2013.

“They’re working together to have a portal set up,” she said. “We will make the documents available as of Jan. 1.”

Kobach’s deputy assistant secretary of state, Brad Bryant, said county election officials will be able to verify proof of citizenship without the link during the few months between when the law goes into effect and when the new system goes online.

The state has been scanning birth certificates and other information into its systems at DMV offices and will continue to do so until the portal is ready.

Rep. Ann Mah, D-Topeka, said the state may be defying the intent of the motor voter act, which is intended to make it easy for people to register to vote when they get or renew driver’s licenses or register for some state assistance services.

Bryant said his office is talking with officials in the Department of Children and Families to ensure people can register to vote when they apply for state services.

“So even if we could fix the DMV problem, we still have the problem of other places where by federal law they are to allow people to register to vote?” Mah asked.

Bryant said the DCF system is done on paper. It’s a one-step process, he said, but it will take two pieces of paper to register.

Mah said that for married women who change their names it’ll be three pieces of paper, one being an affidavit at the elections office explaining why their names have changed.

“I think it’s something we have to make the U.S. attorney aware of,” she said.

Reach Brent Wistrom at 785-296-3006 or bwistrom@wichitaeagle.com.

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