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Kansas Secretary Of State: Only Obstacle Voter ID Causes May Be ‘Exerting Calories’

The Huffington Post
Sam Levine
Thursday, February 23, 2017

"Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) brushed off concerns over a voter photo identification requirement in his state last year, telling a civil rights advisory panel that he didn’t see it as a burden to reach for one’s wallet or purse to get identification.

In 2011, Kansas introduced one of the strictest voter laws in the United States, the Safe And Fair Elections Act, requiring voters to show both photo identification at the polls and proof that they are citizens when they register. Last year, the proof of citizenship requirement was blocked in federal court.


A draft of a report written by the panel features testimony from organizers and academics highlighting how the extensive requirements pose a barrier to voting. Based on its findings, the Kansas Advisory Committee suggested that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights formally recommend a review of the SAFE Act’s voting requirements and its compliance with federal law to the Department of Justice. As states around the country push voter ID laws, the Kansas committee’s report demonstrates how strict voting requirements can have a disproportionate impact on certain groups. 

For example, the SAFE Act requires Kansas to provide free identification to any voter for voting purposes ― something that many other states pushing voter ID laws also promise. But Michael Byington, a disability rights advocate, told the committee that he had worked with several clients whom officials had tried to charge for a voting ID. While the law required Kansas to provide free birth certificates to people born in the state for identification purposes, residents born outside Kansas have to pay to obtain identification documents. Any kind of charge to be able to vote is effectively a poll tax, Richard Levy, a constitutional law professor at the University of Kansas, told the committee."

Faculty name: 
Richard Levy