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Judge: Kobach can't encumber voting in KS

Posted at 7:55 PM, Jan 18, 2016

A Kansas judge has ruled that Secretary of State Kris Kobach has no legal right to bar people who register to vote using a federal form from voting in local and state elections.

Shawnee County District Judge Franklin Theis ruled Friday in favor of two Kansas voters who challenged how Kobach is enforcing a state proof-of-citizenship requirement for registering to vote.

The judge said Kobach had no authority to "encumber the voting process" by declaring that voters who use a federal form to register can cast ballots only in federal races. The federal form does not require proof of citizenship.

The court found the right to vote under current Kansas law is not tied to the method of registration.

Attorney Paul Davis filed a separate lawsuit arguing that the more than 38,000 names expected to be removed from the voter registration rolls violated both federal law and prospective voters' constitutional right to due legal process.

RELATED | Voters challenge Kansas citizenship rule, voter rolls change

41 Action News obtained the list of incomplete registration forms in October. At the time, there were 38,085 names. The state planned to purge those incomplete forms after 90 days.

We called random names on the list to see if after 90 days they submitted the completed registration.

One person had sent the required documentation. The other three were confused by the process.

"I actually kind of lost the process, I don't really know how to do it to be honest," admitted one person we called.

Davis said the recent ruling didn't include a remedy but said, "If they registered at the DMV, they are a federal voter. And if you applied this decision that came out this past week, those voters would actually be able to vote in the state and federal elections."

Davis hopes to have a decision on his lawsuit sometime in the next few months and before the presidential election.

Kobach's office declined comment on the ruling.

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Shannon Halligan can be reached at shannon.halligan@kshb.com.

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