Kris Kobach registers two plaintiffs to vote in suspended voter lawsuit, files motion to dismiss

Kris Kobach is being sued for attempting to purge 37,000 people from Kansas’s voter rolls because they did not provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote. The Supreme Court has already told him that he is not allowed to require proof of citizenship for federal voter registration, so if he insists on requiring proof of citizenship, he can only do so for state elections. This would mean keeping two lists of voters: one that can vote in all elections, and one that can only vote in federal elections. Citing the rather obvious logistical nightmare that this would create, Kobach is trying to simply purge these federal-only voters instead. This is almost certainly illegal.

However, according to the Wichita Eagle, Kobach is trying out a rather strange legal defense: He is claiming that the case should be thrown out, as the two plaintiffs in the case lack standing…because he just moved them from the list of suspended voters to the list of registered voters. As the Eagle reports:

Kris Kobach, via Wikimedia Commons

Kris Kobach, via Wikimedia Commons

But the case should be dismissed because the plaintiffs have been registered to vote, Kobach’s office said in a motion filed in federal court Tuesday. Kobach’s office registered them after the lawsuit was brought in late September.

“Although Mr. Cromwell and Mr. Keener did not present proof of citizenship to the relevant county election officer to complete their registrations, Kansas law provides that the Secretary of State and the county election officers may obtain proof of citizenship on behalf of applicants for voter registration,” Kobach’s attorney, Garrett Roe, stated in a brief.

I mean, I guess this works. Kobach is conceding that you don’t really need to provide proof of citizenship to the state in order to register to vote, as long as you’re ready to sue the state instead.

Apparently, this isn’t even the first time Kobach has used this legal strategy, having registered a plaintiff in a case in September in order to have the case thrown out. This time around, lawyers for the plaintiffs are objecting (correctly) that Kobach is simply playing around with voting rights in Kansas in order to avoid legal scrutiny of his law. Which, again, is almost definitely in violation of federal voter registration regulations.

What’s more, Kobach has claimed that this wasn’t some high-investment, one-off endeavor. According to him, the plaintiffs’ citizenship statuses were verified as part of monthly reviews his office conducts to make sure that everyone on Kansas’s voter rolls is in fact eligible to vote. Which leads me, and I’d assume the courts, to wonder:

If the state is already able to verify citizenship status on its own, then Why are citizens required to provide proof of citizenship in the first place?


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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