For years, Kris Kobach has fought against illegal immigration. He helped write two of the nation’s most strict immigration laws in Arizona and Alabama and helped develop a now-defunct national immigration security system. Now Kobach, the Republican secretary of state for Kansas, is embroiled in court fights over his repeated attempts to require Kansans to provide proof of citizenship to register to vote. Although he has repeatedly lost in court, one case that remains open will determine whether thousands of Kansans will be able to vote in November’s local and state elections. The saga began in 2011 when Kansas passed the Secure and Fair Elections Act. The law, written by Kobach, requires those registering to vote after Jan. 1, 2013, to provide documentary proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a birth certificate or a passport. … In September 2013, the ACLU sued Kobach, contending that the proof of citizenship requirement split Kansas voters into two “separate and unequal classes.” In June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states could not require proof of citizenship for people who register using the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s national mail voter registration form. Kobach was allowing those who registered in Kansas with proof of citizenship to vote in all elections, but prohibited those who registered with the EAC form – without proof of citizenship – from voting in state and local elections in Kansas.
This January, Shawnee County District Judge Franklin Theis ruled that Kobach doesn’t have the authority to ban those who register with the EAC form from voting in local and state elections.
Meanwhile, Brian Newby, the former Johnson County, Kansas, election commissioner under Kobach, was appointed executive director of the EAC in November 2015. On Jan. 29, he sent letters to the secretaries of state of Kansas, Georgia and Alabama allowing them to require proof of citizenship for those registering with the EAC form. After Kobach received Newby’s letter, he asked Theis to reconsider his ruling. However, Theis stood by his decision.
The League of Women Voters sued Newby in February over the modification of the three states’ EAC forms. On June 29, a U.S. district judge ruled that registrants using those states’ EAC forms must in fact provide proof of citizenship. The league plans to appeal the judge’s decision. Georgia and Alabama are not enforcing any proof of citizenship requirement in this election cycle because they don’t have the time or money to do so, state officials told News21.