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Census record, family Bible help elderly woman meet Kansas' voter citizenship standard

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TOPEKA, Kansas — A Kansas board on Wednesday approved a 92-year-old woman's voter registration after she and her daughter presented copies of census records and a page from a battered family Bible to show that she is U.S. citizen.

Evelyn Howard, of Shawnee, went before the State Election Board because she has no birth certificate. Daughter Marilyn Hopkins said her mother was born in a midwife's home in northern Minnesota in February 1922.

Kansas requires new voters to provide a birth certificate, passport or other proof of citizenship when registering. Howard moved to Kansas from Missouri in 2013 and lives in an assisted living center. She sought to register as a Republican earlier this month.

The proof-of-citizenship law allows prospective voters to appeal to the three-member Election Board, and Howard's is the third case it has considered since the law took effect last year.

PHOTO: Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, left, discusses the case of a 92-year-old Shawnee, Kan., woman who initially couldn't meet a proof-of-citizenship requirement because she doesn't have a birth certificate, during a meeting of the State Election Board, Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014, in Topeka, Kan. Listening to him are Attorney General Derek Schmidt, center, and Caleb Crook, right, an attorney in the secretary of state's office. (AP Photo/John Hanna)
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, left, discusses the case of a 92-year-old Shawnee, Kan., woman who initially couldn't meet a proof-of-citizenship requirement because she doesn't have a birth certificate, during a meeting of the State Election Board, Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014, in Topeka, Kan. Listening to him are Attorney General Derek Schmidt, center, and Caleb Crook, right, an attorney in the secretary of state's office. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

The board's decision in Howard's favor was unanimous. The page from her family Bible recorded her birth, and the census records, from 1940, showed her living in Missouri. Hopkins also provided a copy of her own birth certificate, listing her mother's native state as Minnesota.

"She has always voted," Hopkins said of her mother during a teleconference with the board. "Now that she has moved to Kansas, this is her first opportunity to vote, and we find out that she cannot vote because she doesn't have a birth certificate."

The board is comprised of Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who pushed for the law's enactment to combat election fraud. As of Wednesday, nearly 20,000 registrations remained on hold because the prospective voters haven't met the citizenship requirement.


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