One-third of KS voter registration applications 'in suspense' - KCTV5

One-third of KS voter registration applications 'in suspense'

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LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) -

Thousands of people in Johnson County and the state of Kansas may think they are registered to vote, but they're not. It's all tied to a change in Kansas voting law.

"Technically these individuals are registered, but not in our registration totals until we get their proof of citizenship document," said Johnson County Election Commissioner Brian Newby.

Newby said about 2000 people may be in for a surprise next time they try to vote. Their voter registration applications are in a suspended state until proof of citizenship is presented, before they'll be added to the voter rolls.

"Our big concern here is we'd like to not see that number continue to increase. It's 2000 in the first six months, it could be 4,000 by the end of the year. The sooner we get this fixed the better," he said.

The problem started when Kansas law changed Jan. 1. A Department of Revenue spokesperson said the problem happens when a current license or ID holder comes into a license bureau to update information on their license that doesn't require proof of citizenship.

By law the bureau is required to ask them if they'd like to register to vote. If they say yes, but don't have proof of citizenship, the application is incomplete when forwarded on to the Secretary of State, and then to the county election office.

"In the meantime, we are trying to follow up with the voters who registered to say we need this in order for you to be able to vote," Newby said.

State-wide more than 11,000 applications are waiting for proof of citizenship. Wyandotte County said they have 649 applications in suspense from the driver's license bureau, and 64 for other reasons.

The Department of Revenue said the system works as planned when someone new to the state shows proof of citizenship, when registering to vote at a license bureau.

Newby said it's a good thing there's not a county-wide election until next fall.

"They wouldn't be denied the right to vote, but we'd have to work with them to make sure we could count it," he said.

A $40 million upgrade to the Division of Vehicles computer system was supposed to store electronic copies of birth certificates and other proof-of-citizenship documents, and send them to election officials, but Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew says that hasn't happened.

Newby said the easiest way to verify you're registered to vote in Johnson County is to check online. Click here for more information.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled a similar voter registration law in Arizona unconstitutional. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has said the Kansas law is different enough that he is confident it will stand up in court.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.)  All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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