KanVote found that in order to obtain a free voter ID, voters without access to necessary proof of citizenship would be forced to pay for a birth certificate. KanVote made the discrepancy known this week at a rules and regulations hearing held by the Secretary of State's office.
After hearing KanVote's findings, Kris Kobach stated that free birth certificates are available for accessing the free voter ID. He claimed the discrepancy was mere confusion caused by his senator, Kelly Kultala. Kobach blames Kultala for postponing the implementation of voter registration regulations and creating confusion among related agencies regarding when free birth certificates are available.
Upon further investigation, KanVote discovered that the new voting restrictions do not make free birth certificates available to those applying for a voter ID.
The Law Enacts A Poll Tax and Kultala Can't be Blamed
The new voting law states that a person requesting a free birth certificate must swear under oath that they are doing so in order to register to vote. There is no provision granting free birth certificates for the purpose of obtaining a voter ID. This indicates that free birth certificates will not be made available until the new voter registration restrictions take affect in 2013, and only then for those not already registered to vote. What this means is that a person who is registered to vote but lacks voter ID and proof of citizenship, will be forced to pay for proof of citizenship in order to obtain the necessary ID required to vote. Simply put, some will have to pay to vote even after 2013. There should be no confusion about it, this law enacts a functional poll tax.
Section 13 (3) of the SAFE Act
The secretary shall not charge or accept any fee for a certified copy of a birth certificate if the certificate is requested by any person who is 17 years of age or older for purposes of meeting the voter registration requirements of K.S.A. 25-2309, and amendments thereto. Such person shall swear under oath: (1) That such person plans to register to vote in Kansas; and (2) that such person does not possess any of the documents that constitute evidence of United States citizenship under K.S.A. 25-2309(l), and amendments thereto. The affidavit shall specifically list the documents that constitute evidence of United States citizenship under K.S.A.25-2309(l), and amendments thereto.
A Mess that Can't Be Swept Under the Rug
Kobach claims that Kultala created a confusion that he can clear up with the participation of related agencies. He recently mentioned that he is working with county election officials and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to create a process by which citizens can access free birth certificates. KanVote made several calls to the Sedgwick County Election Office yesterday and found out that no such process has been created as of yet. The employee at the election office informed our caller that they were in the process of developing a document that could be signed by those in need of a free birth certificate.
KanVote is anxiously awaiting the release of this document. It is unclear how the document will maintain consistency with the new voter law while correcting the functional poll tax discrepancy.
How KanVote Discovered the Poll Tax
After attempting to assist citizens in obtaining free voter IDs in Sedgwick County, it was discovered that in order to obtain a free voter ID you must provide a birth certificate or other proof of citizenship. Many of the people who were in need of a free voter ID were also in need of proof of citizenship. KanVote contacted the KDHE Department of Vital Statistics and Brad Bryant, Elections Director at the KS Secretary of State's office, and asked about access to free birth certificates.
Both agencies informed KanVote that free birth certificates would not be made available until new voter registration restrictions take effect in 2013. After reviewing the law we discovered that free birth certificates are not made available for the purpose of obtaining a voter ID.