The American Civil Liberties Union took legal action Thursday to block a Kansas voter ID law ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
The ACLU wants a federal judge to suspend the state’s voter ID requirement until the lawsuit it filed over the law in February goes through trial, set to begin in 2017, reported Reuters. The 2011 law requires residents to present documentation proving their citizenship in order to vote, such as a birth certificate, US passport, naturalization documents or military records.
ACLU lawyer Dale Ho argued the additional documentation requirements violate federal law requiring states to have uniform voter registration through driver’s license registration centers.
“Under federal law, registration is supposed to be simple and uniform in all 50 states,” Ho told Reuters. “It’s accurate to say this is a unique situation in Kansas.”
In the lawsuit, the ACLU claims the law violates the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, or the Motor Voter Law, which requires states to allow residents to register to vote when they apply for or renew a driver’s license, The New York Times reports.
The ACLU claims that up to 22,000 people have been barred from registering to vote while procuring a driver’s license since the law went into effect in January 2013. Ho said those hoping to register to vote while applying for or renewing their license should only have to sign an affidavit confirming their citizenship.
Kris Kobach, the secretary of state in Kansas who was the driving force behind the state’s voter ID requirement, has defended the law, saying non-citizens who vote “can potentially steal an election.”
“The state has every right to verify that the person is eligible to vote before completing the person’s registration,” Kobach told The New York Times after the lawsuit was filed in February.
Three other states – Arizona, Alabama and Georgia – have laws on the books requiring voters to provide proof of citizenship. Of these, only Arizona enforces the law, but fewer registrations have been denied in the the Grand Canyon State than in Kansas.
Kobach, who has pushed for stricter immigration laws, gained notoriety as one of the authors of the 2010 Arizona law that allowed police officers to verify immigration status during any lawful stop or arrest, which critics charged would lead to racial profiling. Additionally, he is the only secretary of state in the US who has the authority to prosecute voter fraud cases.
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