State Elections Board Considers First Citizenship Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A woman who couldn't provide a copy of her birth certificate will be allowed to register to vote for the upcoming elections.

The State Elections Board met Tuesday to consider the woman's application. It's the first filed under the state's "SAFE Act." The act requires people registering to vote in Kansas for the first time to provide one of 13 types of documentation to prove United States citizenship.

Secretary of State Kris Kobach said the woman's case ended up with the board because she initially was applying for a Kansas driver's license and could not provide the required birth certificate. A history of adoption, foster care and name changes through marriage and divorce meant her birth county in Illinois wouldn't release a copy of her birth certificate.

Kobach says there is no set burden of proof for these cases. He says the board uses the preponderance of evidence standard. He says the woman was able to present the board a lot of evidence and documentation about her early life to prove she had lived where she said she did.

The State Elections Board has existed in law for several decades, but hadn't met since 1974, when it considered some regulatory issues. The Kansas Legislature utilized it in crafting the Safe and Secure Voting Act, as a method by which disputes over citizenship could be settled. Kobach says the provision was made with situations such as older residents who were born on a rural farmstead and didn't have a birth certificate in mind. However, he says, Tuesday's unusual situation showed how the system could work.