The state’s suspended voter list will be cut significantly next month when a new rule takes effect.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office published a new rule Thursday that limits the time a person’s name will be on the suspended voter list to 90 days if he or she fails to provide proof of citizenship.
Since 2013, Kansas has required prospective voters to provide a passport, birth certificate or other approved document in order to register to vote. People who registered to vote but did not provide proof of citizenship have been placed on a suspended voter list. The list now has about 36,000 names on it, according to the Secretary of State’s office.
Instituting the new rule will take off about 30,000 of those names. Kobach’s critics have called it a purge, but he says it’s simply a cost-saving measure so that counties do not have to continue to send people notifications. A person who is taken off the list could start the registration process anew.
Marge Ahrens, co-president of the Kansas League of Women Voters, said the new rule “feels so disrespectful of Kansans.”
“It’s very problematic for the League of Women Voters to make this group of people begin the registration process again,” Ahrens said. “It really violates the spirit of what our nation, our constitution, was built on – the participation of all.”
Last month Kobach became involved in a war of words over the policy with Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
Clinton’s campaign posted a comment on Twitter condemning the policy: “Purging 34,000+ voters from Kansas elections is no administrative rule – it’s a targeted attack on voting rights.”
Kobach responded on Facebook, denying that his plan is a purge and mocking Clinton. “Oh the horror! Hillary is getting her pantsuit in a twist over nothing,” Kobach said.
Contributing: Edward M. Eveld of the Kansas City Star