Equality Kansas Files Kansas Suit Against Secretary of State Kris Kobach

In a press release issued today, Equality Kansas (formerly the Kansas Equality Coalition) represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, joined two individual plaintiffs in a legal action challenging the constitutionality and legality of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's "two-tier" voter registration and election scheme. The complaint, filed today in Shawnee County District Court, states that Kobach's dual system divides eligible voters into separate classes with vastly different rights, violating Kansas' Constitution's equal protection guarantees.
"Separate but equal" has been tried before in this country," said Stephanie Mott, chair of the Equality Kansas board of directors. "Secretary Kobach is now applying his extremist ideology to Kansas elections, setting up a system where some voters are more equal than others. This is unacceptable and must end immediately," said Mott.
In August, Secretary Kobach was presented with a letter from the ACLU, Equality Kansas, the Kansas League of Women Voters, and the Kansas NAACP demanding he immediately comply with Federal law, and accept and use Federal voter registration forms to register Kansas voters. This letter followed the ruling of the United States Supreme Court in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, where the Court directed the State of Arizona to "accept and use for the purpose intended" Federal voter registration forms. The "proof of citizenship" document provisions of the Arizona voter registration law were ruled unconstitutional, and are nearly identical to provisions in Kansas law that were backed by Kobach in 2011 and 2012. The Federal form requires that registrants sign an attestation, under penalty of perjury, that they are citizens of the United States and eligible to vote.
"This is yet another example of Secretary of State Kobach's disdain for the law, and for the people of Kansas," said Thomas Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas. "He didn't like the Arizona ruling, and claimed it didn't apply here in Kansas. After our August demand letter, he began developing what we believe is an illegal scheme to continue to deny Kansans their right to vote," said Witt.
Since the Arizona ruling mandating state acceptance of the Federal voter registration form, Equality Kansas switched from conducting voter registration drives using the Kansas form to exclusively using the Federal form. In statements to the press and others, Secretary Kobach has described a two-tier voter registration scheme that will deny voters who use the Federal form the right to vote in state and local elections, will deny their right to sign petitions, and will deny their right to run for state and local office in Kansas.
"We serve the LGBT community in Kansas, and many in our constituency face significant hurdles in providing some of the documents required by Kobach's law," said Witt. "In a reversal of long-standing state policy, transgender voters are now denied the right to amend their birth certificates. Same-sex couples who have married out of state are being denied the right to update their Kansas identification documents. These discriminatory state policies create insurmountable barriers to voter registration, and indeed to voting itself," he said. "It's time for Kobach to recognize the dignity of all Kansans, follow the law, accept the Federal form for all elections, and let citizens register and vote."

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