Butler County Times Gazette
  • Many voters face having their ballots tossed Aug. 5

  • There are two ways to register to vote, using the federal form, or using the state form
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  • A recent decision by a Kansas judge to uphold a dual voting system proposed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach, means some voters in Butler County may not have their ballots counted when they go to the polls for the Aug. 5 primary election.  
    “We have received seven voter registrations using a federal form. Four of those have provided their proof of citizenship so they are a qualified voter to vote on everything,” said Don Engels, Butler County clerk. “We are trying to contact the other three and see if they will complete their voter registration, and also be able to vote on everything.”
    There are two ways to register to vote, using the federal form, or using the state form. Under Kobach’s dual system, if people registered with the federal form, and had no proof of citizenship, their vote will be counted by hand and only your vote for federal offices, like senate, will count. A change in state voter registration laws, already meant if a person registered with the state form, but haven’t proven his or her citizenship, he or she still get to vote, but the entire vote is thrown out. There are 412 people who fall into that category in Butler County.
    Engels said it is all confusing to both his office and to voters.
    “Everybody gets to vote. If they are included in our poll book of registered voters then they will go right to a machine and vote that way,” said Engels. “If there is question about someone’s validity then they will vote on a paper provisional ballot.”
    Engels says his office has about a week to research those provisional and determine if the vote counts. While this slows down the process, it doesn’t often make a difference in the outcome.
    “Nothing is official until the election is canvassed. That usually takes place on the Monday after the election,” said Engels. “In most cases, there are not enough provisional ballots to change the outcome. Once in a while the outcome will change at the canvass, but it is pretty rare.”
    As for the votes that won’t count, Engels said he doesn’t think there will be much of an effect on Butler County.
    “But if you are the one person whose vote doesn’t get counted, then I suppose it is a big problem,” said Engels.
    Despite arguments of disenfranchising voters who came from the ACLU and local voter advocacy groups, Kobach said that’s not the intent and the goal is to have uniformity all around.
    Whether he gets that uniformity could be decided by a federal appeals court on Aug. 25 when a judge will hear arguments in a lawsuit attempting to force the federal government to help Kansas and Arizona enforce proof-of-citizenship requirements for voters. That hearing will take place after the Kansas primaries.

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