The civil rights group will ask a federal judge in Kansas City,
Kansas, to issue a preliminary injunction pending the outcome of a
lawsuit the group filed in February.
The ACLU claims Kansas is making illegal demands for additional
proof of citizenship, violating the so-called Motor-Voter Law that
Congress passed in 1993 to boost voter registration for federal
elections by allowing voters to register at motor vehicle
The Kansas law requiring documents like a birth certificate or U.S.
passport for voter registration, which took effect Jan. 1, 2013, is
one of numerous voter ID laws passed by Republican-led state
legislatures in recent years. The ACLU alleges that Kansas goes
beyond what is required by federal law.
Democrats have argued voter ID laws typically hurt potential
Democratic supporters like young people and minorities. Proponents
say the laws are intended to curb voter fraud.
Driver's license applicants should only be required to sign a sworn
statement that they are citizens in order to register to vote, ACLU
lawyer Dale Ho said.
"Under federal law, registration is supposed to be simple and
uniform in all 50 states," Ho said. "It's accurate to say this is a
unique situation in Kansas."
The ACLU estimates as many as 22,000 people have been unable to
register to vote in Kansas when applying for or renewing a driver's
license. Six of them are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, some said they
cannot find or afford needed documentation.
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Since the lawsuit is not set for trial until 2017, the preliminary
injunction is being sought so people denied registration can vote in
August and November elections, Ho said.
Georgia and Alabama passed laws similar to Kansas, but are not
enforcing them, Ho said. Arizona uses the law, but people have not
reported as many registration denials as in Kansas, Ho said.
The lawsuit names Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as a
defendant. Kobach said the Kansas law has prevented many illegal
aliens from voting.
"This is a very real issue and we have lots of close elections where
the margin of victory is one vote or four to five votes," Kobach
said. "Non-citizens voting can potentially steal an election."
(Reporting By Kevin Murphy, Editing by Ben Klayman and Andrew Hay)
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