Judge Strikes Down Kansas ‘Show Me Your Papers’ Voter ID Law

Kevin Daley | Supreme Court Reporter

A federal judge in Kansas City struck down a state law Monday requiring Kansas voters to show proof of citizenship before casting ballots.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson, a George W. Bush appointee, found the statute unlawfully burdens ballot access for eligible voters, in violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and the Constitution.

“The court determines that the magnitude of potentially disenfranchised voters impacted by the law and its enforcement scheme cannot be justified by the scant evidence of noncitizen voter fraud before and after the law was passed, by the need to ensure the voter rolls are accurate, or by the state’s interest in promoting public confidence in elections,” the judge wrote.

Robinson maintained that prohibiting eligible citizens from voting because they lack proper identification did more to damage public confidence in the electoral process than voter fraud.

The law at issue was championed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, an ally of President Donald Trump who is seeking the GOP nomination for governor. Kobach’s office did not issue a statement on the ruling by press time.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) organized a challenge to the law, which they cast as another iteration of a broader voter suppression effort. (RELATED: Supremes Duck Major Ruling On Partisan Gerrymanders)

“This decision is a stinging rebuke of Kris Kobach, and the centerpiece of his voter suppression efforts: a show-me-your-papers law that has disenfranchised tens of thousands of Kansans,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s voting rights project. “That law was based on a xenophobic lie that noncitizens are engaged in rampant election fraud. The court found that there is ‘no credible evidence’ for that falsehood, and correctly ruled that Kobach’s documentary proof-of-citizenship requirement violates federal law and the Constitution.”

In a separate, scathing portion of the decision, the judge pilloried Kobach for failing to comply with judicial rules of procedure and discovery. Though staff attorneys typically represent the state in court, Kobach chose to personally defend the lawin this litigation.

“It is not clear to the court whether [Kobach] repeatedly failed to meet his disclosure obligations intentionally or due to his unfamiliarity with the federal rules,” Robinson wrote. “Therefore, the court finds that an additional sanction is appropriate in the form of Continuing Legal Education (CLE).” Attorneys are required to periodically complete CLE courses to maintain their law licenses.

The judge went on chide Kobach for his apparent unfamiliarity with procedural rules, and his failure to share information with the plaintiffs.

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