Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach will have to explain to a federal judge Friday in Kansas why he should not be held in contempt of court for his handling of a ruling blocking the state’s proof-of-citizenship voting requirement, according to an order issued by U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson Monday.
The order came after the ACLU and the other civil rights groups that sued him over the requirement requested the court force Kobach to follow an earlier order that he restore the voting rights of those who didn’t show a proof of citizenship when registering to vote at the DMV.
Kobach — known for his vocal support of anti-immigration legislation and voting restrictions — has, as Kansas’ top elections official, pushed some of the strictest voting laws in the country.
According to a motion filed by the challengers last week, Kobach has been resisting adding those voters to the state’s official voting rolls. The challengers asked the court to make clear that those voters are allowed to vote by regular ballot — rather than by provisional ballot, as they say Kobach is intending — and that they be informed that they are registered to vote.
The challengers say some 18,000 voters have not been added to the official rolls. According to the challengers, the name of one of the voters involved in the lawsuit does not come up when searching for his voter registration in the state’s official data base. When the voter called his local clerk to check on his registration, he was told his registration would not be completed until he showed a proof of citizenship.
Kansas’ proof-of-citizenship requirement is the target of a number of lawsuits. In the case being presided over by Robinson, she ordered last May that the affected voters be registered for federal elections. In a separate lawsuit filed in state court, a Shawnee County district court judge said those voters should also be allowed to vote in state and local elections.
Kobach’s office defended its implementation of Robinson’s May order in a letter to the ACLU this month responding to the group’s concerns that was among the court documents.
“It appears that you are improperly attempting to litigate the pending state court
matter of Brown v. Kobach (which you filed) in federal court by trying to confuse the issues in the two separate cases,” Garrett Roe, Kansas’ deputy assistant secretary of state for legal services, said in the letter. “Judge Robinson’s order only applies to registration for federal elections under the National Voter Registration Act (‘NVR’). As you know, that Order has no bearing
on state elections.”