Voting Rights Trial with Kobach Gets Underway


Kris Kobach, photo from The Kansas City Star

The ACLU, representing several groups, sued Kansas charging that a law Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach had passed undermined the fundamental right to vote and that it violated the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). The trial started March 6. This is the 4th time the ACLU has had a lawsuit against Kobach.

Kobach’s law required people to show a birth certificate or passport when registering to vote. Many Americans don’t have their birth certificate and don’t have a passport if they haven’t traveled out of the country. The time and expense to acquire these documents can be too much for some citizens.

Between 2013 and 2016, over 35,000 Kansans were not able to register to vote because they did not have these documents. That’s 14% of new registrants that were blocked due to Kobach’s law.

From the ACLU: “The NVRA was designed to reduce barriers to registration as well as to ensure a level of uniformity and consistency in voter registration amongst the states.” That goal for uniformity could be shattered if Kobach’s viewpoint holds up, i.e. that each state can require whatever it wants to for voter registration.

Kobach jumped onto the national stage last year when he was picked by Trump to co-lead the infamous “voter fraud” commission with VP Mike Pence. Ostensibly formed to prove President Trump’s assertion that voter fraud had prevented him from winning the popular vote, the commission got buried in lawsuits and abruptly disbanded earlier this year.

Legal experts are reporting that Kobach will have to prove that there are a large number of non-citizens who are trying to register to vote in Kansas to make his case. You can read the Wichita Eagle’s recap of Day 1 here. The trial is expected to last 7 days or so.

Did I mention Kobach is running for Governor of Kansas this fall?

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