- Associated Press - Monday, September 28, 2015

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The young and politically unaffiliated are the most likely to be affected by Kansas’ plans to purge voter lists of people who have incomplete registrations, a newspaper analysis has found.

The Wichita Eagle reports (https://bit.ly/1G9x5fO ) that more than half of prospective voters with incomplete registrations list no party affiliation and that more than 40 percent are under 30. The newspaper based its report on an analysis of nearly 36,700 suspended registrations obtained from Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office.

Kobach has enacted a new rule requiring county election officials to remove the names of any prospective voters whose registrations have been incomplete for more than 90 days. It takes effect Friday and is expected to remove more than 32,000 names.

The bulk of the incomplete registrations are for voters who haven’t yet met a requirement to produce a birth certificate, passport or other papers documenting their U.S. citizenship. The Republican secretary of state championed the requirement as a way to prevent election fraud, but critics say it suppresses turnout.

Russell Fox, a political science professor at Friends University in Wichita, says the proof-of-citizenship requirement is “a real tragedy” for young prospective voters who should be involved in the political process.

“We make it hard,” Fox said. “That increases the disaffection, and then government and politics turns off people, so they continue to not register or be involved.”

But Kobach says it’s not the proof-of-citizenship requirement that will lead to their removal from voter lists.

“It’s an uncompleted registration record that a person has started, but no one’s voting rights have ever been suspended because of the proof of citizenship law,” he said.

The Eagle’s findings are consistent with past analyses of such data.

The Associated Press reported in 2013 that 57 percent of the prospective voters who hadn’t complied with the proof-of-citizenship rule were unaffiliated, though such voters made up made up only 30 percent of the state’s 1.7 million registered voters at the time. The same was true with data for all incomplete registrations obtained by AP again in August, and The Eagle’s analysis found the same percentage.

The Lawrence Journal-World reported in October 2014 that its analysis of such data showed the proof-of-citizenship requirement disproportionately affects young voters and voters from low-income neighborhood. The Journal-World matched the addresses of the affected voters with census tracts and examined the tracts’ demographics.

The data obtained by AP in August also showed that 41 percent of the voters with incomplete registrations were born after 1985.


Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, https://www.kansas.com

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