Lawsuit filed to stop Kobach from purging voter list

A lawsuit was filed today by two Kansas residents who are seeking an injunction to prevent Secretary of State Kris Kobach from purging more than 36,000 Kansans from the voter rolls.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., was filed by Alder Cromwell and Cody Keener, both from Douglas County.

Representing them are Paul Davis, who was the former Democratic candidate for governor, and Will Lawrence, attorneys. They are with the law firm of Fagan Emert and Davis, Kansas City, Mo.

Cromwell and Keener say in their lawsuit that purging the voter rolls violates the National Voter Registration Act and due process rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

Under Kobach’s directive, on Friday, Oct. 2, county clerk and election commissioners throughout Kansas can start to remove more than 36,000 Kansas citizens from voter registration rolls because they have not yet provided proof of citizenship documentation.

“The law does not allow for a purging of voters like what Secretary Kobach is plotting to accomplish,” said Paul Davis, an attorney for the plaintiffs. “Voting is a fundamental right guaranteed by the United States Constitution and it is imperative that this right be protected.”

According to information in the Wichita Eagle, more than half of the Kansans affected are not affiliated with a political party, while 18 percent are registered as Democrats and 22 percent are registered as Republicans.

In the lawsuit, Cromwell stated that he applied to register to vote in Kansas about March 27, 2015, by filling out the Kansas voter registration form, attesting to his U.S. citizenship and eligibility to vote. He mailed in the printed form.

Cromwell did not submit the requested documentation proving citizenship, and received notification on April 27 that his application was added to the statewide voter roll with a designation of “in suspense.”

Keener stated in the lawsuit that when he went to renew his driver’s license at the department of motor vehicles, he was asked and decided to register to vote through the DMV. His information was transmitted electronically to the secretary of state’s office, which then transmitted it to the Douglas County Clerk’s office.

About Dec. 29, Keener was notified by the county clerk’s office that he had been placed in the statewide voter registration database and marked as “in suspense” because he had not submitted documentation of his U.S. citizenship.

In 2013, a Kansas law took effect that required new registrants to provide documentary proof of citizenship before they would be registered to vote.

In June, Kobach proposed the new administrative rule to require voter registration applicants in the statewide voter registration database who have not submitted documentation of U.S. citizenship to do so within 90 days or their registration will be removed from the statewide voter registration database.

The rule becomes effective on Oct. 2. It requires all county election officers to mark applications received from the department of motor vehicles as incomplete if they do not include documentation of U.S. citizenship.

The lawsuit cites a U.S. Supreme Court case from 2013, Arizona v. Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona, that ruled states may not impose a documentary proof of citizenship requirement with respect to individuals seeking to register to vote using the federal form.

On the federal form, the citizenship status is verified by applicants attesting to their U.S. citizenship under penalty of perjury, which was found to be sufficient by the Supreme Court.

The lawsuit alleges the plaintiffs’ 14th Amendment rights were violated, and states their right to vote was infringed by the Kansas documentation requirement.

The lawsuit also states the purging of the names would violate the National Voter Registration Act.

The lawsuit says there are only certain reasons that voters can be removed from the lists, such as death and change in residence.

The lawsuit asks the court to declare that the Kansas statute violates the 14th Amendment, and that the Kansas regulation violates the National Voter Registration Act.

The lawsuit asks for a permanent injunction against the secretary of state to prohibit the application and enforcement of these state laws and regulations.

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