Kansas board: 92-year-old can vote despite not having a birth certificate

A 92-year-old woman without a birth certificate is a citizen and should be allowed to vote in November, the State Election Board decided Wednesday.

Evelyn Howard of Shawnee was born in rural Minnesota in 1922 at a midwife’s house and does not have a birth certificate.

She lived most of her life in Missouri and never had trouble voting until she moved to Kansas, her daughter, Marilyn Hopkins, said.

The state requires that people registering to vote provide proof of citizenship.

“She has always voted. She feels like that’s a responsibility and a duty that she has, and she’s taught me in the same way to be a voter all my years,” Hopkins testified by phone at the board’s meeting. “And now that she has moved to Kansas, this is her first opportunity and we find out she can’t vote because she doesn’t have a birth certificate. However, she has lived in the United States all of her life.”

Howard, who also participated by phone, submitted as evidence a family Bible, which included a registry of births, early census records and an affidavit from Hopkins. The secretary of state’s office also was able to obtain a birth certificate for Howard’s brother, who was born two years later.

The elections board, which is composed of Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, decided unanimously that Howard had proven her citizenship.

Schmidt said that a family Bible with a registry can be used as proof of citizenship to obtain a U.S. passport; since a passport can be used for the Kansas voter law, the Bible should be considered sufficient evidence.

Kobach said after the meeting that all people who are notified that they haven’t provided proof of citizenship are informed they can have a hearing before the elections board. Howard was the third person to use that option since the law went into effect in 2013.

Reach Bryan Lowry at 785-296-3006 or blowry@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BryanLowry3.