In Loss to Kobach, Kansas Court Strikes Down Two-Tier Voter Registration in Kansas

A state court in Kansas today issued a 30 page opinion granting summary judgment to two Kansas voters who registered to vote in Kansas using a federal form but who had been denied the right to vote in state elections by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

The background: Federal law requires states to accept a “federal form” for voter registration (promulgated by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission) for voting in federal elections. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a fraudulent fraud squad star member, challenged the authority of the federal government to require Kansas to accept that form, arguing that states had the final say. Because those registering with the federal form did not have to provide proof of citizenship (as normal registration in Kansas now did), Kobach argued he did not need to accept the federal form.  The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, and then through further litigation in the 10th Circuit (with cert. denied by the Supreme Court), establishing that Kobach was wrong: Congress had the authority under the U.S. Constitution’s Elections Clause to require states to accept the federal form for voting in federal elections, even if the federal form did not provide all the information a state wanted.

Kobach’s response to this ruling was to say that anyone who registered using the federal form would only be registered to vote in federal elections, and could not vote in state elections. There have been some legal challenges filed to this two-tiered system, and in today’s ruling, the Kansas court held the two tiered system violated state law (and federal law too it appears, although the analysis on this point is not clear to me.)

Kobach’s office is reviewing the ruling and hasn’t announced whether there will be an appeal.

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