KanVote and Occupy Wichita Unable to Obtain Free Voter IDs Despite New Law


Despite reports of the successful implementation of Kansas’ controversial new voter ID laws coming out of Cimarron, Ks, the Wichita branch of the Department of Motor Vehicles is not prepared for an influx of citizens seeking free voter identification cards, as the new law provides for.

On Tuesday, about 4o activists from the KanVote Coalition and Occupy Wichita entered the DMV in Wichita with the intention of obtaining our free voter identification cards. We entered the line for general information to find out what we had to do. We were immediately approached by a state employee and asked to follow her into the hallway, outside the office. Members of the media including KWCH (CBS), KAKE (ABC), (KAKE chose not to air anything from the action although we did appreciate their attendance) KSN (NBC), Univision and KMUW (NPR) accompanied us and were told they could not film in the DMV. The cameras were taken to the hallway where crews filmed through a glass wall. A few of the activists wore microphones and remained in the office so the media did have sound despite having been removed. Occupy Wichita provided this video which features KanVote members Louis Goseland and CJ Schoch:

Why we were not allowed to stay in the line and take numbers like the rest of the patrons at the DMV was never made clear. Only one employee seemed to know what we were talking about, but she had to call supervisors in Topeka several times because she was not trained to answer our questions concerning who was eligible for the free voter identification cards.

Because the DMV computers crashed shortly after our arrival we were unable to obtain free voter ID’s. Apparently, it was only the Wichita location’s computers that were down, rather than the DMV’s state-wide system. What caused the computer issue remains unclear. While the state employee designated to help our group was aware of the free voter IDs, we had many questions that she could not answer. The employee, who is not permitted to speak with the media, spent a lot of time on the phone with the DMV in Topeka. The employee on the other end of the line, who I assume was a supervisor of some sorts, was also unable to answer many questions.

We were not permitted to enter the line and take numbers to meet with random state employees about getting our free voter IDs, as is the normal procedure. Instead, we were made a priority and pushed to the front and we were only permitted to speak with the one employee, who was extremely patient and helpful, especially given the ambush nature of the action.

However, the fact that we were not allowed to follow the regular procedures and wait in line like regular patrons leads us to believe that the rest of the employees at the Wichita DMV were not prepared to answer questions and implement the process of making free voter IDs. Yet, officials in Topeka claim that all state employees have been trained on the voter ID law.

What KanVote and Occupy Wichita proved through this action is that 40 people entering the only DMV, to obtain a free voter ID in a city that serves over 300,000 residents crashes the whole system and creates a chaotic atmosphere that cannot be handled through the regular process. Not one person received their free voter ID. While Secretary of State Kris Kobach may point to a successful vote in Cimarron under the new voter ID law, Cimarron only has 1,200 registered voters. Impoverished citizens are most likely to need a free voter ID and Wichita has over 30,000 residents living below the poverty line.

While the state is obviously not prepared to handle providing free voter ID’s to even a small fraction of the people who need them, Secretary of State Kris Kobach has gained the support of the Elections Committee in pushing forward the implementation the birth certificate requirements for first time voters to register. This law was not supposed to go into effect until next year, but Kobach wants to enact it this June. The voter ID law was also enacted earlier than first proposed.

Kobach is rushing these laws into action without the basic infrastructure or funding to implement them. While Kobach claims to have found 260 cases of voter fraud in Kansas since there has only been one conviction in that same period of time. One conviction out of ten million votes cast.

By forcing first time voters to provide their birth certificates in order to register, the state is putting a very large burden upon activists who hold voter registration drives. We will be required to photocopy people’s documents, and most people do not carry their birth certificates around town.

Special interest groups that seek to increase their influence over our elections realize that their leverage increases when voter participation declines. Voter suppression is the primary goal of these laws. If the state wants to implement voter ID laws, which it has, the state should be deploying mobile units dedicated to registering and providing free voter IDs for anyone who wants one, which it has not.

In fact, most people do not even realize they have to bring their birth certificate when they register to vote for the first time. Those who do not have a valid ID, meaning your  ID has the wrong address, is expired, or does not have your legal name (recently married women might want to take note), will not be allowed to vote.

The less people who vote, the more power the interest groups wield.

These measures have also been taken in several other states, including Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker also enacted voter ID laws and then proceeded to announce the closing of several DMV offices, all of which were located in Democratic districts. 

4 comments

  1. ProgressivelyStupid

    If you can’t be involved enough in your community to have an ID, you don’t deserve to vote, period. If you’re only now registering because some LeftWing agitprop needs you to propel the Marxist agenda, then I’m pretty happy you’re not voting.

    Get a life. Get a job. Get a grip.

  2. Mr Joe

    You people are no more than slugs trying to stir up crap with little reasoning behind it. If your supposed voters (almost all Dems for sure) are not able to prove citizenship, or produce a birth certificate then maybe they need to stay home and forget voting. These votes if counted only promote socialism anyway, and I do not want that to impinge on my rights to be free

    • Virender

      Why is DMV a huge problem? I live in Washington, DC, hilsoricatly one of the most dysfunctional local governments. I can do pretty much everything online, e.g. renew registrations, replace a lost drivers license, pay tickets, and so on. I had assumed if we have that here, then most states have it too, since we’re usually behind the curve for tech. If you have to wait in line at DMV on a regular basis I would blame your state government, not the system in general. Sure, you have to occasionally go in person, but this is increasingly rare. I can’t remember my last visit other than vehicle inspection. And the purpose of these visits is usually to authenticate your identity and the legitimacy of documents when dealing with something new like a title transfer; or actually inspect a vehicle. I feel like they’ve struck a decent balance of convenience when there’s really no need to have a real person there, versus security to prevent fraud, e.g. if doing something such as obtaining temporary tags (which has hilsoricatly been abused a lot).And this is the nature of most of these problems: security and fraud prevention. Wouldn’t you love to be able to vote online? Who wouldn’t? But the potential for fraud meaning a machine that could vote for millions of people, instead of the scope of fraud being a single person voting for one single other person makes this largely impossible for the forseeable future.Same with medical records. We all get bothered about the slow whittling of our privacy. But that’s just as it pertains to information that’s really always been public but difficult to collect easily for large numbers of people, until recently. Today’s privacy concerns aren’t about the availability of information, it’s about how organizations are using it. But medical records aren’t at all public and enjoy great protections. The difficulty with these areas is not that we don’t have the technology to create web sties where you can log in and look at stuff. We’ve been doing that for almost two decades. It’s that we aren’t comfortable in our ability to navigate the most sensitive things, the areas where the stakes are the highest, where fraud could have the biggest payoff, and a breach of confidentiality could have very serious consequences.

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