In a 67-page ruling, Federal District Judge Julie Robinson blocked the enforcement of the Kansas voter ID law.
This is not the first time this law — or its application — has made it to the courts. The so-called ‘Two-Tiered Voters‘ scheme — in which voters without IDs could vote in federal elections but not state or local ones — was struck down in state court in January.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach has claimed that these laws are necessary to prevent non-citizens from voting, but the ruling issues a strong criticism of this rationale:
“But on this record, the Court cannot find that the State’s interest in preventing noncitizens from voting in Kansas outweighs the risk of disenfranchising thousands of qualified voters. There is evidence of only three instances where noncitizens actually voted in a federal election between 1995 and 2013. And while there is evidence that about fourteen noncitizens attempted to register to vote during that time, this number pales in comparison to the number of people not registered as a result of the DPOC [documentary proof of citizenship] law. Approximately 18,000 otherwise qualified motor voter applicants have not been processed solely because they have failed to produce DPOC.” — Judge Robinson 5/17/2016; Fish, et al. v. Kobach
Three non-citizens voting illegally in 18 years versus 18,000 otherwise qualified voters at risk of being (or already) purged.
When Secretary of State Kobach was given prosecutorial powers to find and prosecute cases of illegal voting, he had promised the legislature 100 (and then 200) cases ready for immediate prosecution. To date, he has had 4 convictions from 9 cases, but not a single one involving non-citizens (all have involved double-voting in state elections).
At some point there has to be a moment of pause to really consider the intent of these laws. When the underlying intent is virtually nonexistent, it opens the door to questions of voter suppression, not protecting the integrity of the system.
The state has until May 31 to appeal to the the 10th Circuit Court. This is likely, regardless of the findings today by the lower court that the plaintiffs would almost certainly win any case against this law as a violation of the federal motor voter laws.
Photo Source: AP