Testimony ends in kansas voting law trial; no opinion yet – connecticut post

KANSAS CITY, kan. (AP) — A kansas voter registration law enacted in 2013 has stopped thousands of eligible citizens from voting and will damage the election process if it is allowed to stand, an attorney for the american civil liberties union argued monday as testimony ended after seven, often-contentious days in a federal bench trial.

ACLU attorney dale ho said during closing arguments that the hordes of noncitizens accused of illegally registering to vote and stealing elections by kansas secretary of state kris kobach "are not real." he derided one of kobach’s frequent statements that the 129 noncitizens he says have registered to vote in kansas are "just the tip of the iceberg."

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"The iceberg, on close inspection your honor, is more of an ice cube," said ho, who urged U.S. District judge julie robinson to find that the law will not be imposed in kansas.

The ACLU, which has said up to 22,000 people who tried to register at motor vehicle offices have been prevented from doing so, is challenging a 2013 kansas law that requires documents such as birth certificates or passports proving citizenship when registering to vote. The outcome of the trial could determine if thousands of kansas residents will be allowed to vote.

In his closing, kobach argued that the plaintiffs had not proven the law undermines the election process.Said kobach his team has argued throughout the legal case that a vast majority of kansas residents have access to the documents required by the law and the small number who don’t have several methods in which they can get off the suspended list and complete their registrations.

"There is no evidence that people who are U.S. Citizens are being prevented from voting," said kobach, who acted as his own attorney in the case.

But he said the law has prevented thousands of noncitizens from voting. Although the estimates range from about 1,000 up to 33,000, depending on the methodology used, it is still a substantial amount even if using the lower estimate, kobach said.Election process

Kobach also said the kansas legislature overwhelmingly determined in 2013 that having to show documents to register was a small price to pay to protect the election system and he asked the judge to uphold the legislature’s will.

Robinson said she couldn’t say when she would issue an opinion but that she was aware this year’s elections were quickly approaching. She gave attorneys until april 16 for any final legal filings in the case.

While testimony ended monday, kobach and the ACLU will return to court tuesday for a contempt hearing. The ACLU has said kobach ignored robinson’s orders to help suspended voters register since she issued a temporary injunction against the law.Elections kansas

Earlier monday, a pollster hired by kobach testified that a survey of 500 adults he conducted found just one person who couldn’t produce a document proving U.S. Citizenship. Robinson allowed pollster pat mcferron to testify, despite confusion about whether kobach’s team was offering him as an expert witness or a witness of fact.

McFerron is president of cole hargrave snodgrass and a republican consultant who has worked on campaigns for several prominent kansas GOP leaders, including former gov. Sam brownback.

One of the survey questions asked: "in 2011, because of evidence that aliens were registering and voting in kansas elections, the kansas legislature passed a law requiring that people who register to vote for the first time must prove that they are united states citizens before they can become registered.Election process do you support or oppose this?"

McFerron acknowledged the question could introduce bias into the survey and that he had concerns about the wording. He was paid $9,000 for the survey but said he had been offered more from kobach’s team to testify at the trial, which was not publicly disclosed until monday.

Mark johnson, attorney for university of kansas student parker bednasek, who testified earlier that he refused to present his birth certificate in order to protest the law, suggested mcferron worded the survey in order to appease GOP officials in kansas and attract more business.Election process during his testimony, mcferron said he found the suggestion offensive and said he never hesitated to give clients information they might not want to hear.

The ACLU called as a witness UCLA professor matt barreto, a statistician and survey analyst, who testified that mcferron’s methodology for the survey had several flaws, including that it didn’t properly represent the kansas population and was completed in only three days with no effort to return calls to people who didn’t initially answer.