Two Democratic lawmakers have introduced legislation that could help reduce a backlog of voter registrations in Kansas that are missing citizenship documents. A law that took effect last year requires people registering to vote for the first time in Kansas to provide documents proving their citizenship. Nearly 20,000 voter registrations are now on hold because the documents haven’t been provided. Representative Jim Ward, from Wichita, introduced a bill that would allow people registering to vote to sign a form swearing they’re U.S. citizens.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach says the proof-of-citizenship requirement is needed to prevent voter fraud. Ward says the actual number of confirmed cases of voter fraud is very small.
The 2014 Kansas legislative session is underway. On the first day, two lawmakers introduced bills that could reduce a backlog of voter registrations. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, nearly 20,000 registrations are on hold in Kansas because they lack required citizenship documents.
A law that took effect last year requires people registering to vote for the first time in Kansas to provide documents proving their U.S. citizenship. The bills that have been introduced would allow people registering to instead sign an affidavit swearing they’re a U.S. citizen. Lying on the form would be a felony. Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach pushed the document requirement as a way to prevent voter fraud. Representative Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat, is pursuing the change. He says the current law is affecting people who are U.S. citizens.
“No sane person in Kansas believes that there are 20,000 cases of voter fraud. The law is too broad and it affects too many people,” says Ward.
Ward and Democratic Wichita Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau are proposing the change. They introduced similar bills during a special session last year, but they didn’t get much traction.