WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A civil rights group on Tuesday filed a lawsuit challenging a Kansas voter registration system that prevents people from participating in state and local elections unless they show proof of U.S. citizenship.

The American Civil Liberties Union's lawsuit said the voter registration system set up by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach violated the Kansas constitution and state law.

The ACLU said the system denied the right to vote in state and local elections to at least 17,000 residents who registered through a federal voter registration form or when they applied for or renewed their driver's license.

Those people can vote in federal elections but would have to show proof of citizenship to vote in state and local ones.

Kansas requires registrants to prove their citizenship by providing one of a series of documents, including birth certificates and passports.

"Secretary Kobach continues to place roadblocks in front of Kansas voters,” said Doug Bonney, legal director of the ACLU of Kansas.

Kobach has gained a reputation for pushing a series of voting and anti-immigration measures across the country as a national debate over voting restrictions has accelerated since the Supreme Court struck down parts of the Voting Rights Act in 2013.

Most states allow people to register by simply signing a statement affirming they are citizens and providing a driver’s license number, Social Security number or other proof of residency. 

The ACLU filed the lawsuit in Shawnee County District Court.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)