Voting Rights Groups Applaud Kelly Administration for Providing Required Voter Registration Opportunities to Public Assistance Clients
OVERLAND PARK – More than 125,000 voter registration applications will hit Kansas mailboxes in the coming days, on top of more than 100,000 already delivered—providing a critical opportunity to register at a time when COVID-19 has hampered voter registration drives and other outreach efforts.
The mailings are part of Governor Kelly’s efforts to bring the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Department of Health and Environment (DHE) into full compliance with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).
The NVRA requires public assistance agencies to provide clients with voter registration services when they apply for or renew benefits, or change their address. Demos, Loud Light, the ACLU, and the ACLU of Kansas have been working with the Governor’s office and the agencies since late 2019 to address compliance concerns. Consequently, DCF and DHE are improving their voter registration services. These “remedial” mailings ensure that clients receive federally mandated voter registration opportunities they may have missed before these improvements are completed. The mailings are being sent in English or Spanish, depending upon the client’s preferred language.
Voting rights groups applauded the Governor’s efforts and urged clients to return completed voter registration applications to county officials prior to the October 13th postmark deadline.
Adam Lioz, Senior Counsel for Demos, said voter registration hurdles too often push Black and brown voters to the sidelines of our democracy.
“In sending hundreds of thousands of voter registration applications to public assistance clients during a global pandemic, Kansas is doing exactly what the National Voter Registration Act intended and requires—forging a more inclusive democracy by reducing voting disparities by race and class,” Lioz said.
“These mailings are a major step toward bringing Kansas into full compliance with federal voting rights laws—and not a moment too soon,” said Lauren Bonds, Legal Director of ACLU of Kansas. “We appreciate the Governor’s efforts and the hard work of the agency staff, and we expect that thousands of additional Kansans will participate in an historic election as a result.”
Davis Hammet, President of Topeka-based Loud Light, said that with the mailings and critical improvements to DCF’s and DHE’s voter registration services, Governor Kelly, Secretary Howard, and Secretary Norman are doing their parts to ensure that all eligible Kansans have the chance to participate this November.
“If you receive Medicaid, SNAP, or LIEAP, please check your mailbox because your next letter could be your invitation to shape the future of Kansas and the entire country by voting this year,” Hammet said.
Kansas’ mailings mirror similar efforts across the country. As part of ongoing NVRA compliance work, Demos, ACLU and partners have worked with states such as Arizona, North Carolina, Michigan and Virginia to generate nearly three million voter registration application mailings since March.
“The global pandemic and this historic election spotlight the critical need for states to meet their voter registration obligations,” said Sarah Brannon, Managing Attorney of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “Kansas joins the list of states that recognize this need and are responding.”
By the end of September, DCF will have mailed 150,512 voter registration applications and DHE 127,255 – for a total of 277,767. Eligible Kansans can also register to vote online at KSVotes.org or when renewing a driver’s license through the iKan application (https://ikan.ks.gov/). Voter registration through iKan is now more accessible to Spanish language speakers thanks to collaboration between voting rights organizations and the Kansas Department of Revenue.
Voting rights groups encouraged Kansans to vote early in person or by mail starting as soon as October 14 (check counties for specifics). Voters can request a mail ballot online at KSVotes.org or download mail-in ballot applications in English and Spanish at https://sos.ks.gov/elections/voter-information.html. Kansans must bring photo ID to the polls to vote.
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About the ACLU of Kansas: The ACLU of Kansas is the statewide affiliate of the national American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU of Kansas is dedicated to preserving and advancing the civil rights and legal freedoms guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. For more information, visit our website at www.aclukansas.org.
Demos is a dynamic think-and-do tank that powers the movement for a just, inclusive, multiracial democracy. Through cutting-edge policy research, inspiring litigation, and deep relationships with grassroots organizations, Demos champions solutions that will create a democracy and economy rooted in racial equity. To learn more visit www.demos.org.