Errors In Kansas Spanish-Language Voting Guide May Have Lowered Caucus Turnout

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Toni Ann Booras Contributor
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Multiple errors in a Spanish-language voter guide distributed in Kansas may have lowered voter turnout in the state’s March 5 Republican and Democratic caucuses.

Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach’s office is under fire for discrepancies between the English- and Spanish-language voter guides that may have caused prospective voters of both parties to miss the registration deadline or fail to register because they wrongly thought they lacked proper documentation, The Wichita Eagle reports.

The errors, which were first reported by Democratic consultant Chris Reeves on the Daily Kos, have since been corrected in the online guides.

The Spanish-language guide stated that residents could register to vote up to 15 days before the election, while the actual deadline – which was printed correctly in the English-language guide – is 21 days before the election.

“It’s pretty easy to spot something’s wrong when they’re using the numeral 21 (in the English guide) and in the other one, the numeral’s 15,” Reeves writes. “That doesn’t take any translation. The numbers are the numbers.”

That’s not the only error in the guide. The English-language guide lists the acceptable forms of identification to register as “birth certificates, passports, naturalization documents, military records and other documents.” The Spanish-language guide leaves off passports as a valid form of identification.

Craig McCullah, a spokesman for Kobach who is in charge of the office’s publications, told The Wichita Eagle a clerical error was to blame for the misprinted information and accepted responsibility for the mistake.

“It was an administrative error that I am diligently working to fix,” he said.

McCullah said he is investigating how the errors were overlooked, pointing out the deadline to register was changed in 2014 from 21 days before the election to 15 days.

Of the state’s residents, 11.4 percent are Hispanic or Latino, according to Census Bureau data from 2014.

Kobach, a Republican who has been a vocal proponent of adding more requirements for voter registration, is the only secretary of state in the US with authority to prosecute voter fraud. He crafted strict voter ID legislation in the state that was signed into law in 2011 by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, according to the Washington Post.

The editorial board of The Kansas City Star wrote in an editorial Monday that the legislature “ought to strip him of his powers to prosecute unlawful voting cases.”

“[I]t’s offensive that Kobach’s office website would contain wrong information in a guide that’s supposed to help legal citizens participate in democracy, especially given his off-target rants against supposed illegal voting by immigrants,” the editorial board wrote.

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