Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office has registered two suspended voters suing him in federal court and contends that the case should now be thrown out.
The lawsuit, filed by a pair of Douglas County residents whose voter registrations were suspended, challenges the state’s requirement that people show proof of citizenship in order to vote.
But the case should be dismissed because the plaintiffs have been registered to vote, Kobach’s office said in a motion filed in federal court Tuesday. Kobach’s office registered them after the lawsuit was brought in late September.
“Although Mr. Cromwell and Mr. Keener did not present proof of citizenship to the relevant county election officer to complete their registrations, Kansas law provides that the Secretary of State and the county election officers may obtain proof of citizenship on behalf of applicants for voter registration,” Kobach’s attorney, Garrett Roe, stated in a brief.
Never miss a local story.
Once a month, incomplete registrations are checked against records held by the state’s Department of Vital Statistics, resulting in verification of the plaintiffs’ citizenship and completion of their voter registration, Roe said.
Cody Keener, 22, had his citizenship verified Oct. 6 and Alder Cromwell, 18, had his citizenship verified Tuesday, according to the records Kobach’s office filed with the court.
Their attorneys see this as an attempt to avoid judicial scrutiny.
It appears that one of the ways to register to vote in Kansas is that you have to file a lawsuit against Kris Kobach.
Will Lawrence, a lawyer representing two people challenging the state’s voter citizenship requirement
“It appears that one of the ways to register to vote in Kansas is that you have to file a lawsuit against Kris Kobach,” said Will Lawrence, one of the attorneys representing Keener and Cromwell.
“What it appears here is that Kobach is playing games with Kansans’ right to vote in order to evade judicial review,” Lawrence said in a phone call. “This is a tactic that he’s used before in other cases.”
Kobach’s office also registered the plaintiffs in a separate case in state court, then sought dismissal of that case in September.
Kobach said in a phone call that his office checks records with other state agencies each month in order to make sure rightful voters are registered.
“We do this as a service to Kansas voters,” Kobach said. “It has enabled thousands of Kansas voters to have their citizenship confirmed by the state so they don’t have to send the documents in themselves.”
Keener and Cromwell are being represented by a legal team that includes former gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis. The suit came after Kobach’s office instituted a new rule last month giving prospective voters 90 days to provide proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or passport.
Those who fail to do so will see their names removed from a list of suspended registrations and will have to start the process again. Before the rule change, prospective voters had until the day of an election to provide the necessary documents.
Kobach said Keener and Cromwell’s attorneys should be celebrating that their clients now are registered voters, rather than complaining.
The fact that the plaintiffs got their registration shows how well the system is working.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach, after his office verified the citizenship and completed the voter registration of two people who are suing the state
“That’s how government should work. We want one agency of government talking to another … the fact that the plaintiffs got their registration shows how well the system is working,” he said.
Kobach said that in a perfect world, the check would happen instantaneously. He said his office would work to streamline the process as technology improves.
The daughter of Kobach’s primary opponent last year received a letter from Douglas County informing her that she had failed to provide proof of citizenship even though she uploaded a copy of her passport to a state website. The issue was resolved within minutes after The Eagle asked the Secretary of State’s Office about it.
The office blamed the situation on technical glitches.