Voter fraud, the cause célèbre of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, is on trial this week in federal court in Kansas City.
Kobach maintains it’s only by the state’s strict oversight that illegal immigrants are kept from overwhelming Election Day polls. Since 2000, he’s found 11 such cases among Kansas’s 1.8 million registered voters.
On the other side is the American Civil Liberties Union that maintains the previous system worked fine and that additional layers of paperwork only serve to turn prospective voters away. In 1993, the National Voter Registration Act allowed voters to affirm their citizenship by swearing so, with a penalty of perjury and punishable with prison, fines or deportation.
Kobach used the voter fraud gimmick to launch himself onto the national stage by propping up President Donald Trump’s claim that illegal voters robbed him of the popular vote in the 2016 election.
But even Mr. Trump gave up the ghost this January when he disbanded the Commission on Election Integrity of which Kobach was the de facto leader. After eight months, the commission was unable to verify any significant amount of illegal ballots was cast. The president then moved the issue of election fraud over to Homeland Security, where, hopefully, its focus will have more to do with Russia’s influence rather than the smattering of illegal voters.
Hanging in the balance of the U.S. District Court’s decision is the SAFE law — Secure and Fair Elections — devised by Kobach to require voters to produce documentation of U.S. citizenship.
Since Kansas enacted the law in 2013, an estimated 22,000 voters have been denied their right to vote despite their meeting requisite guidelines. Computer glitches at the Secretary of State’s office also were responsible for thousands of voter registrations to go missing, including 710 from Douglas County, 2,873 from Johnson County and 2,194 from Sedgwick.
According to the Kansas chapter of the League of Women Voters, the additional paperwork has resulted in a marked decrease in voter registration, most notably among the elderly, the poor and younger voters.
With low voter turnout an embarrassment to our democracy, the last thing we should want is to turn voters away.
WATCHING CLOSELY are other conservative-leaning states that have enacted these suppressive voter registration tactics and, like Kansas, face court battles.
Kobach contends that by defending the lawsuit himself, he is saving the state money. If he really had the state’s welfare in mind, this charade of a trial wouldn’t be happening in the first place.
By now, Kansans know Kobach’s priorities. There’s not a spotlight or headline that he doesn’t want for himself and as a candidate for governor, Kobach is hoping the trial’s publicity helps pave his way to Cedar Crest.
— Susan Lynn