State court permanently blocks Secretary of State’s dual voter registration system

A state court has ordered a permanent hold to Kansas’ dual voter registration system, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas announced Friday.

The dual system prevents qualified voters from voting in state and local elections due to their method of registration, according to the ALCU. It would allow some Kansans to vote for federal offices, such as U.S. Senator and U.S Representative , but not for state representatives, state senators or other state and local offices. The ACLU challenged the dual system, asking the court to permanently block it after Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach attempted to formalize the system via an administrative rule, according to the ACLU.

Shawnee County District Judge Franklin Theis said in June Kobach could not stop Kansans from voting in state and local elections simply because they registered to vote using federal forms. Those federal forms do not require proof of citizenship like Kansas does in its registration process.

Friday, Judge Larry Hendricks ruled in favor of the ACLU, ruling Kobach “simply lacks the authority to create a two-tiered system of voter registration,” according to the ACLU.

Sophia Lakin, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, called Friday’s ruling a victory.

“This ruling is a victory for Kansas voters and a stinging rebuke of Secretary Kobach’s repeated efforts to improperly use his authority to obstruct their access to the ballot,” Lakin said in a statement. “This decision recognizes that Kansans’ right to vote in state and local elections should be honored, no matter what registration form they used.

About 19,000 Kansans who registered to vote through the Division of Vehicles or using the federal national mail registration form are affected by the ruling, the ACLU said. One impacted voter is 90-year-old Army Corps veteran Marvin Brown, who registered to vote by submitting a complete federal form, according to the ACLU. Brown was later told he could vote in federal elections, but not in state and local elections unless he showed additional proof of citizenship.

“It’s wrong that a bunch of so-called leaders would tell me that I have to show a bunch of extra documents before I can vote,” Brown told the ACLU. “As a military veteran who fought to protect our democracy, it’s particularly offensive.”

The lawsuit was filed in the Third Judicial District in Topeka.