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Kansas, Arizona move forward with new war on voting

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R)
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R)Associated Press

About two months ago, two of the nation's leading proponents of voting restrictions -- Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) and Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett (R) -- hatched a plan so foolish, many assumed it would be laughed at and ignored. As of this week, those assumptions are looking quite shaky.

The Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that states cannot alter federal voter-registration forms to include a proof-of-citizenship requirement. Kobach and Bennett want one anyway, fearing undocumented immigrants might register to vote, so they hatched a scheme.

As the far-right policymakers see it, the Supreme Court ruling applies to federal forms and federal elections. Why not, they said, create dual voter-registration tracks -- one for federal offices and one for state offices?

Right now, in literally every state, you can register to vote, and then you participate in elections however you please. Kobach and Bennett are eyeing an alternative -- voters would register twice, once with the regular ol' federal form, which would allow Americans to vote in a presidential election or for members of Congress, and then again to participate in state elections. For the latter, Kobach and Bennett would demand that you show proof of citizenship.

And while that would presumably cause a legal and logistical nightmare, all in the hopes of solving a problem that doesn't exist, this plan is actually moving forward in Arizona...

Arizona elections officials are preparing to use a dual-track voting system in next year's elections that would require the use of two different ballots, depending on how a voter was registered. [...]

The shift, triggered by an opinion Monday from state Attorney General Tom Horne, was immediately labeled as a restriction on voting rights. But Horne and Secretary of State Ken Bennett said the move is necessary to comply with an Arizona voter mandate as well as federal law.

... and in Kansas.

With court action over the state's proof-of-citizenship voting law looming, Secretary of State Kris Kobach is laying groundwork for a system that would allow some voters to vote in all elections while others could only vote for Congress and presidential tickets.

Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, an opponent of the proof-of-citizenship law, said he received confirmation from the Department of Legislative Research this week that Kobach is moving forward with the plan to limit voters who follow federal registration rules to voting only in federal elections.

The Republican war on voting didn't end in 2012; it metastasized.