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Kansas official Kris Kobach claims law halted up to 18K noncitizen votes

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach defended his state’s voter registration law in federal court on Tuesday, claiming the measure he championed has prevented 1,000 to 18,000 noncitizens from casting ballots.

During opening statements in a federal lawsuit challenging his authority to implement the requirements, Kobach said one of his experts will testify that the higher end of that range is more likely.

He argued that the law, which requires people to provide documents such as a birth certificate or passport at motor vehicle offices to register to vote, was much more effective than previous policies that required registrants only to check boxes saying they were over 18 and a U.S. citizen.

“Just having to sign something saying you are a U.S. citizen is nothing,” Kobach said.

Kobach said his office has been able to document 129 noncitizens who voted or tried to vote since 2000, although documentation earlier to the court had the number at 127. He said that number is “the tip of the iceberg, and we know the iceberg is much larger.”

Dale Ho, director of the Voting Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, argued in his opening statement that the law has kept an estimated 22,000 people from voting — most of them young or independent voters. He said of the 127 cases Kobach cited earlier, 43 successfully registered since 2000 and only 11 actually voted, most through clerical errors or misunderstandings. He said even if Kobach’s numbers are true, only 0.007 percent of Kansas’ 1.8 million registered voters should have voted illegally.

“This case is about the most fundamental right in democracy and a law that has deprived thousands in Kansas from using that right,” said Ho, who compared the law to “taking a bazooka to a fly.”

Charles Stricker testified Monday that he thought he was registered to vote until he showed up at the polls in 2014. He told the court how he felt confused and embarrassed as he filled out a provisional ballot at a designated table. His vote didn’t count.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that Stricker testified he made two trips to the local motor vehicle office on the final day he could register for the 2014 general election. He was initially told he needed additional documentation such as a birth certificate and a piece of mail showing he lives in Kansas. When he returned, nobody asked him to provide the documentation and he left assuming he was registered.

He testified that when he called the Sedgwick County elections office to ask if he could vote in 2016, an employee told him his status was “complicated” pending unresolved legal issues. That experience motivated him to participate in the trial.

“I don’t think the average Kansas citizen should have to sue the secretary of state to get registered to vote,” he said.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson must decide whether Kobach has legal authority to demand the documentation. The lawsuit requires Kobach to show that Kansas has a “substantial” problem of noncitizens registering to vote and the definition of “substantial’ is the central legal question of the case.

Kobach, the vice chairman of President Donald Trump’s recently disbanded commission on election fraud, argues the law is necessary to prevent voter fraud and says even a small number of noncitizens voting could sway a close election.

Plaintiffs in the case say incidents of noncitizens registering to vote are extremely rare and argue that such Republican-backed laws hurt voter registration efforts and disenfranchise minorities and college students who may not have the documentation readily available.

Since the law took effect in 2013, about one in seven voter registration applications in Kansas were blocked for lack of proof of citizenship — with nearly half for people under the age of 30, according to court filings.

Robinson in May 2016 temporarily blocked the law’s implementation for people who register at driver licensing offices, a ruling that was upheld by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

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Unbelievable! Labour Party tells Boris Johnson to follow BARNIER's advice on Brexit

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LABOUR urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “heed Mr Barnier’s advice” in the House of Lords this afternoon.

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Beach club tied to Sen. Whitehouse denies claims it’s ‘all-white’

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NEWPORT, R.I. — An exclusive Rhode Island beach club tied to Democratic U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse has broken its silence to defend itself from claims that it’s for white people only after the controversy garnered national attention.

Bailey’s Beach Club in Newport said in a statement Wednesday that the recent characterizations are “inaccurate and false,” The Providence Journal reports.

The organization, known formally as the Spouting Rock Beach Association, said its members and their families include “people of many racial, religious, and ethnic backgrounds” from across the globe, though it declined to elaborate.

Jack Nolan, the club’s general manager, told the newspaper the club’s membership information is private.

WPRI-TV also reports the club’s president, Alexander Auersperg, also sent a message to members Wednesday in which he stressed the club does not “discriminate against any race, religion, or ethnic background when it comes to our membership process or to the hiring of our staff.”

Spouting Rock Beach Association, also known as Bailey’s Beach, is an elite private beach and club in Newport, R.I.John Greim / LightRocket via Getty Images file

Whitehouse, who was first elected in 2006, has faced criticism for years for being a member of the exclusive club as the scion of a wealthy family.

The latest flare up came after a local website, GoLocalProv, asked him recently whether the club was “all-white.” Whitehouse said the club was still working on diversifying membership and that he was “sorry it hasn’t happened yet.”

He’s since stressed the club does include non-white members and that the website’s original assertion that it’s “all-white” was incorrect.

Whitehouse has also said he’s not officially a member, though his wife, Sandra, is a prominent member of the institution, which dates to the 1800s and whose members over the years have included royalty and Gilded Age families like the Vanderbilts and Astors.

On Wednesday, the senator also disclosed he belongs to a sailing club in Newport which doesn’t have a diverse membership. He apologized for not pushing that organization, which he didn’t name, to do more to address it.

“I commit to working with the club and the community to build a more inclusive membership and to better connect with the local community,” Whitehouse said, according to the Journal.

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Martin Lewis shuts down Remainer James O'Brien 'making mountain out of molehill' on Brexit

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MARTIN LEWIS has shut down Remainer James O’Brien after one of Britain’s biggest mobile networks announced roaming charges for Britons travelling to the EU.

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