A Shawnee County judge will decide whether thousands can vote in state and local elections when Kansas holds its primaries next week.
Judge Larry Hendricks will review Friday whether Secretary of State Kris Kobach has the authority to set up a dual voting system.
A state board approved a new rule earlier this month to allow people who registered at DMV offices to vote in federal elections even if they failed to provide proof of citizenship as required by Kansas law. The rule is meant to put the state in compliance with a recent ruling by a federal judge to let these voters vote under the federal “motor-voter” law.
The rule, crafted by Kobach’s office, still bars more than 17,000 motor-voters from participating in state and local elections without providing proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or passport.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which prevailed against Kobach in federal court earlier this year, is challenging the new rule in state court in an attempt to enable these voters to vote on all races when the state holds its primary elections Tuesday.
Kobach has called the lawsuit ridiculous, but the ACLU says a state judge has already ruled in another case that Kobach lacks the authority to set up a dual voting system.
A spokeswoman for the ACLU said the best-case scenario for the organization would be that the judge rules in its favor Friday and declines to issue a stay, enabling people to vote in Aug. 2.
Kobach would likely appeal a ruling to let people vote without proof of citizenship and then it would be up an appeals court whether to stay that order or to allow people to vote on Tuesday.