Kobach’s Failed Effort to Make Proof-of-Citizenship Look Good

United States Passport Book

A recent TPM article covering the trial on Kansas’ documentary proof-of-citizenship requirement to register to vote quoted a defense witness as saying she “wanted to make him look good.” The witness was referring to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and his efforts to keep the documentary proof-of-citizenship requirement in place. In her efforts to make Kobach “look good,” the witness ended up proving why these laws are an unnecessary and extreme burden on the right to vote.

TPM and The Kansan outlined the witness’ own journey to overcome the documentary proof-of-citizenship requirement in order to register to vote – an endeavor that resulted in weeks of travel, outreach and meetings. Here’s what she had to do to become a registered voter in Kansas:

  • Pay $8 to request a birth certificate from her home state. A birth certificate was not found.
  • Send the state a copy of her family bible, in which her birthdate was inscribed.
  • Request, receive and send the state her high school records.
  • Find an acquaintance who was in charge of the records from the church where she was born to send her baptismal records to the state (the church is no longer in operation).
  • Provide a hand-written letter to the state from the acquaintance who sent her baptismal records.
  • Hold an in-person meeting with Kobach and two other state officials.

After the process above, the 77- year-old American citizen was able to register to vote.

Democracy works best when all citizens can vote without barriers. Documentary proof-of-citizenship requirements place unnecessary burdens on potential voters. These burdens are particularly great for the elderly and minority communities.

In LULAC v ReaganCLC is working in partnership with co-counsel to simplify and remove some of the bureaucratic barriers imposed by Arizona’s documentary proof-of-citizenship requirement. The state’s current dual registration system has disenfranchised at least 26,000 voters in one county, and potentially thousand more throughout the state.

More on the issue:

Federal Judge Allows Rogue Registration Change to Harm Minority, Elderly Voters

How One Election Official Has Tried to Change Voting Requirements in Three States Overnight

Kim is CLC's Director, Communications.