There’s a new case of potential voter disenfranchisement—this time in Kansas.
According to Democratic consultant Chris Reeves, there are discrepancies between the Spanish-language voter registration guide and the English-language version, which could cause Spanish speakers to miss the registration deadline.
Reeves first reported the problem Thursday in the Daily Kos, writing:
Within the first paragraph of the guide, voters receive VERY different information:
Voter Guide in English:
There is no length of residency requirement in Kansas, but a person must be registered 21 days before the election and must be a resident at the time of registration
Voter Guide in Spanish:
No hay un requisito de tiempo mínimo de residencia en Kansas, pero la persona debió haber sido registrada al menos 15 días antes de le elección siendo residente al momento de registro.
The difference? For those that speak Spanish, or who use the Spanish language voting guide, there is reason to believe they have an extra six days to register and vote. A call to a county clerk’s office verified that in fact, English speakers are correctly informed, the time period is 21 days, not 15.
Irene Caudillo, president and CEO of the nonprofit Latino-advocacy group El Centro, states, “It’s tough to not feel like this was intentional because of the things coming out of the secretary of state’s office. … It seems like the same cycle we have been dealing with for the past three, four years.”
Although the state website has since altered the Spanish-language version of the text, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office is still working to alter the printed guides. As Reeves points out, however, the number of days isn’t the only discrepancy:
For English speakers, a passport is viewed as an acceptable form of photo ID to use to register. For those who speak Spanish? Passports, a common form of identification for those who may travel home, as one group noted, aren’t seen as acceptable
Although Kansas has already held its state primary, Kansas City’s KHSB writes that this mistake “could have prevented thousands of people from registering to vote.” This adds to an existing controversy surrounding Kansas’ voting requirements: An ACLU lawsuit recently filed against the state alleges that the proof of citizenship requirement, written by Kobach, violates federal law.
It’s unfortunate that, during a heated election season, Kansas has joined the list of states fending off charges of disenfranchisement.
—Posted by Emma Niles