Friday, October 19, 2012

"Sedgwick County DMV Threatens Voter Group with Arrest." @ KanVote

Suppressed voters Wichita DMV 18 Oct, 2012.
Photo credit: KanVote

Wichita, KS - Today a group of voters took action with KanVote to ensure that Wichitans have access to free voter IDs. The group was attempting to clear up concerns regarding documents required in order to obtain a free voter ID. Several voters have been requested to produce voter registration cards which they do not possess. 

Painting by Dave Loewenstein 
censored earlier in October by a
 Topeka restaurant gallery landlord.
KanVote contacted the Secretary of State's office and were initially informed that such documents were not necessary. KanVote then took their concerns to the Kansas Department of Revenue which informed it's Sedgwick County DMV office that it could use an online database to verify the voter registration status of applicants, which the office committed to using.

In the months following the commitment to use the online database, KanVote received word that voters were being turned away after failing to produce voter registration cards, including Ed and Mike Hyden. Rather than using the online database the Sedgwick County DMV continued to burden voters to produce voter registration cards.

"We've been registered (to vote) at this address for over 10 years, we don't have a copy of the voter registration card. We've never needed it before."

- Ed Hyden, Wichita Voter

This afternoon KanVote and about a dozen concerned voters traveled together to the Sedgwick County DMV to address the issue with a DMV supervisor hoping that she would instruct her employees to utilize the online database rather than turning away those in need of a voter ID. 

The supervisor informed the group that she would call Topeka and speak officials within the Kansas Department of Revenue to see if she could resolve their concern. The group was made to wait over an hour before being informed that the supervisor had "received orders from Topeka" to instruct the group that they could leave or face trespassing charges.

According to a
recent report by the Brennan Center for Law and Justice at New York University, the Sedgwick County DMV serves nearly 8 times the "customer base" of the average Kansas ID issuing office resulting in exceptionally long lines and wait time.

The report also notes Wichita's "disproportionately high" concentration of people of color and people below the poverty line compared to other areas around the state. These populations are statistically more likely to lack a current ID and therefore are more likely to need a free voter ID.

With only weeks left until the elections, it is our hope that the Sedgwick County DMV and Secretary of State Kris Kobach will take proactive measures to remove obstacles to obtaining free voter IDs.

All media is invited to attend this action. For more information contact Louis Goseland at

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