TOPEKA, KS (KCTV) – Being able to vote is something most of us take for granted. But as one Kansas City resident found out this week, it’s not always guaranteed. At least when you don’t have the right paper work.
A new Kansas law that passed in 2013 requires people moving to the state have to show proof of United States citizenship. If you can’t, you can’t vote.
Evelyn Howard, 92, has voted in 18 presidential elections.
Howard says it’s a privilege to vote. That’s why when she moved from Missouri to Kansas, she was shocked when told she couldn’t because she didn’t have a birth certificate.
Her daughter, Marilyn Hopkins, said she was born in a midwife’s home in Minnesota in February 1922.
“I knew we ought to find some way that I can vote because I’m still a United States citizen,” Howard said.
Enter Howard’s family bible from the 1920s.
“This was her mother’s bible which had in it the place when she was born and where she was born,” Hopkins explained.
The Bible had her father’s nearly 100-year-old notes recording Howard’s birth and that of her siblings. Her mother noted on a page in the Bible when and where her children were born. Those simple notes were enough to allow Howard to be approved by the Kansas Election Board to keep voting.
“This has her parents and when they where married, and where they came from. Then it has her brothers and sisters. There were four of them,” Hopkins said.
The bible had recently sold at an estate sale. Thankfully the buyer contacted Hopkins and thought the family should have the Bible back.
“It makes her happy to know she’ll be able to vote,” Hopkins said. “It’s always so important to her. It is her duty to vote.”
“It’s an obligation. We’re citizens of the United States and if everybody don’t vote, they can’t complain. We should do the best for our country,” Howard said.
Howard’s request was just the third case heard by the election board since the new law took effect last year. There are more than 20,000 registrations on hold in Kansas as state officials wait for proof of citizenship. It is unknown how many are because they are elderly Kansans who weren’t born in a hospital.