Many Kansans will be kept from voting in key state and local races.
Thank voter-suppression advocate Kris Kobach, Kansas secretary of state, for the undemocratic mess. An office-holder who should encourage Kansans to vote actually made it more difficult.
An estimated 50,000 prospective voters could be sidelined this year. For now, the votes of some 17,000 Kansans who registered at the Department of Motor Vehicles but didn’t show proof of citizenship only will count in federal races, unless they produce a birth certificate or other citizenship document.
Many won’t in time, and the number of affected voters with no say in local or state races will grow significantly.
Devised by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an ultraconservative bill mill, Kansas’ proof-of-citizenship restrictions deliberately disenfranchised senior citizens, minorities, the poor, young and others who likely wouldn’t vote for extreme-right politicians working overtime for the wealthy and corporate interests.
ALEC also inspired the budget-shattering income-tax cuts of 2012, unconstitutional block-grant funding scheme for K-12 public schools and backward stand on Medicaid expansion.
Considering the sad state of affairs, Kansans cannot give the current ultraconservative regime free rein to enact still more harmful legislation in 2017.
Just imagine the potential damage as lawmakers must craft a school finance formula, address ongoing budget shortfalls and consider various social issues — and without the concern of running for re-election.
The ALEC-guided faction led by Gov. Sam Brownback already has saddled Kansas with a failed trickle-down fiscal experiment, anti-public education crusade, war on the judicial branch and blatant voter suppression designed to give them an edge.
Kansas has many hotly contested races for the Legislature that may be decided by a small number of ballots. The voter-suppression tactics could indeed hinder efforts to unseat numerous ALEC-controlled legislators, Sen. Larry Powell of Garden City included, who would continue to rubber-stamp Brownback’s agenda.
Knowing ultraconservatives won’t relent with their radical pursuits, Kansans who want a return to responsible governing should fight back by engaging in the process.
With an Aug. 2 primary and Nov. 8 general election ahead, exercising the precious right to vote remains the most powerful antidote to the manipulation of our elections and democracy.