Thousands of voters in Kansas are left in limbo because of stricter voting laws that now require proof of citizenship. Kris Kobach, Secretary of State and leader in the push for anti-immigration, has helped spur the move towards more stringent voter laws.
A new Kansas state law, which was enacted in 2013, has put more than 36,000 Kansas residents in limbo, with many unaware that they needed to provide proof of citizenship.
Only U.S. citizens can vote in American elections, but the majority of states only require those who register to sign a statement affirming their citizenship and proof of residency.
An analysis of Kansas’ suspense list by Reuters shows that the law disproportionately affects young voters who often do not have access to the required documents. Democratic and unaffiliated voters are also largely affected in the Republican-controlled state.
The law pushes Kansas into the spotlight and makes the state a part of the national debate over new voting restrictions that have accelerated since 2013, when the Supreme Court struck down some parts of the Voting Rights Act.
In Republican-held states, laws that require photo identification and other voting measures have proliferated in recent years. But Pratt Wiley, Democratic National Committee director of voter expansion, says Kansas’ proof of citizenship requirement is the one that makes him the “most nervous.” Wiley says that the requirement is likely to spread to other states if it succeeds in Kansas.