Tuesday, September 02, 2014

HAWVER: Election day suspense: Will your vote count?

By MARTIN HAWVER, At the Rail | 7/14/2014

Anyone else a little curious about what happens when maybe 17,000 or so Kansans show up to vote in the Aug. 5 primary election and are told that they don’t really need to bother with most of the ballot?

Huh?

Anyone else a little curious about what happens when maybe 17,000 or so Kansans show up to vote in the Aug. 5 primary election and are told that they don’t really need to bother with most of the ballot?

Huh?

Yes, there are still about 17,000 Kansans who are in “suspense” and that means they haven’t proven to the satisfaction of the Kansas Legislature and governor they are sure-enough Americans.

So, after a last-ditch effort by the American Civil Liberties Union last week in Shawnee County Court, Kansas’ new voting law is still the law of the state. That means for voters who have moved within the state, or maybe moved to the state, and who haven’t proven they are official U.S. citizens by producing a birth certificate or passport or naturalization documents, they only may vote on federal offices.

Which means most of their ballot won’t be counted, at least for those state offices like governor or attorney general or secretary of state or even state treasurer. Oh, and members of the Legislature who deal with Kansas law? Nope, votes for those lawmakers won’t count either. That might change the outcome of a primary election or two.

That’s the law, so far, and it’ll be good, or at least in effect, for the primary election.

What might make that time you spend in line waiting to sign in and get your ballot interesting: if someone in front of you is in “suspense.”

Those “suspense” voters’ ballots will go into an envelope and be specially handled through the process. Somewhere in the back room or maybe at the courthouse, those “suspense” voters who don’t show up within about a week of election day with that proof of U.S. citizenship will have their non-federal office votes ignored in ringing up the final tally.

Anyone thinking what’s going to happen face-to-face when the poll attendants tell someone who has been a voter for years, and has moved or otherwise had to re-register, that most of his/her votes won’t be counted?

We’re thinking that the discussion in the typically quiet and respectful voting place might change in a hurry. Probably a little more serious discussion than when you send a drink back to the bar because it was made with vodka rather than the gin you ordered. Probably a little less serious than when a cop asks you to stand on one foot and touch your nose.

You see, for federal voting registration, you just pledge — subject to perjury — that you’re an American. For Kansas voting registration, you’re some sorta foreigner meddling with state elections until you prove you’re not.

But it’s not like this is some sort of last-minute shenanigan. Those potential voters have been written to and telephoned for months to bring in proof of citizenship, and you have to figure if those people really want to vote in all the elections, they might have responded. If you have, say, your birth certificate on the nightstand, you can take a picture of it with your cellphone and e-mail it in.

There are likely some who just don’t have proof of citizenship handy, and there are likely some who just don’t think that they should have to prove it. When was the last time you had to prove you weren’t the guy/gal who robbed the gas station?

Figure that depending on who talks to their legislators about it, the proof of citizenship business might be replaced with a legally binding certification of citizenship — subject to prosecution for perjury if you’re lying. Or, maybe not. While it might make primary voting more interesting than usual, this whole deal probably isn’t over yet.

Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report. Visit his website at www.hawvernews.com

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