Voter restrictions blocked in Florida, defended in Wichita

The same day last week that Secretary of State Kris Kobach took some heat at a Wichita briefing on Kansas’ new voter-ID law, a federal judge blocked parts of a new Florida law regulating voter-registration drives. The Washington Post reported that it was the first time a federal jurist had struck down provisions in one of the voting laws passed since 2011 in nearly 20 states. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law called it “a breakthrough victory for Florida voters and voting rights advocates nationwide.” Kobach has insisted that Kansas’ law, which requires photo ID to vote as of this year and proof of citizenship to register as of Jan. 1, will be “bulletproof in court.” But critics in Kansas and elsewhere still view these laws as less about fighting the negligible problem of voter fraud and more about suppressing turnout of poor and minority voters, who tend to vote Democratic. “If these laws suppress voters, I would not be for it,” Kobach told the Wichita crowd. Turnout will be closely watched as Kansans vote in August and November.