ACLU again asks for contempt of court ruling against Kobach
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has violated multiple court orders by repeatedly refusing to ensure all voters who registered at motor vehicle offices receive a certificate that provides information such as their polling site, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas said in a court filing.
The group asked U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson late Monday to hold Kobach in contempt of court or to amend a court order to explicitly require him to send certificates to those people who registered to vote at driver licensing offices without providing proof of citizenship. Such certificates include information on the voting precinct, party affiliation, polling location and the voter’s districts for various offices.
The ACLU also wants Kobach to correct erroneous and misleading information in the state’s official election manual to make clear that, at this time, those voters are exempt from the state’s proof-of-citizenship requirements.
Kobach’s office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
The latest legal skirmish stems from Robinson’s May 2016 preliminary injunction finding that Kansas can’t require voters to produce proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a birth certificate or U.S. passport, when they register at driver licensing offices. She found that the state’s proof-of-citizenship requirements likely violate a provision in the National Voter Registration Act that requires only “minimal information” to determine a voter’s eligibility.
Kobach argues tough laws are needed to protect elections against voter fraud, but critics contend such restrictions are unnecessary and suppress voter turnout — particularly among the young and minority voters.
The case goes to trial on March 6, and final judgment is not expected for some time thereafter.
The ACLU said that Kobach’s actions risked disenfranchising some voters in a federal election year.
Kobach, a conservative Republican who is running for Kansas governor, was held in contempt of court last year for misleading the court about the contents of documents he was photographed taking into a November meeting with then President-elect Donald Trump.
The court fined Kobach $1,000 and ordered him to testify about the documents.
Earlier in the case, contempt proceedings against him that had been scheduled before the 2016 election were halted after Kobach agreed to allow thousands of voters to cast traditional ballots, rather than force them to use provisional ones.
Kobach was vice chairman of Trump’s recently disbanded commission on election fraud.
A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has said Kobach is not advising the agency on election fraud issues. But Kobach told The Kansas City Star on Monday that the White House has informed him that it wants him to work closely with Trump and his team.
This version of the story corrects the title of the organization to American Civil Liberties Union.