Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach defended the state’s voter registration law in a federal appeals court on Tuesday. He says thousands of Kansans who registered to vote at the DMV without proving their citizenship should not be allowed to cast ballots.
A lower court said in May that those Kansans can vote, but Kobach wants that overturned. Kobach told the appeals court that Kansas is allowed to require citizenship documents that aren’t required under federal law.
The judges had some sharp questions for Kobach. Judge Carolyn McHugh pointed out that federal law does not say states can ask for proof of citizenship from DMV voters.
“But there is something that says the state may only ask for the minimum necessary,” McHugh said. “We don’t need to be authorized by the federal government to tell us what we can ask for," Kobach responded, "because the states under article one, section two of the United States Constitution have the sole authority to establish the qualifications for elections."
An ACLU attorney argued Kansas does not have the authority to ask for citizenship documents when people register to vote at the DMV.