Kris Kobach views his election on Tuesday as the new Kansas secretary of state as “a mandate” to take action on voter fraud issues.
Some would question that assessment, but even if it is true, it seems that Kobach is planning to pursue solutions for voter fraud before determining exactly what the problem is.
Kobach said Thursday that he plans to have a bill drafted for state legislators by Jan. 1 that would require voters to show photo ID at the polls and require people registering to vote for the first time in a given county to present proof of their citizenship. Within a week of taking office on Jan. 10, he added, he will assign one or two members of his staff to investigate allegations of election fraud.
It seems that Kobach may be getting the cart before the horse. It makes far more sense to have his staff investigate reports of election fraud, ascertain the extent of the fraud problem, then evaluate the best course of action to attack the specific problems that his staff uncovers. It could be that requiring people to show identification at the polls would place an additional burden on voters without solving whatever problem the state has with voter fraud or errors.
Every Kansas secretary of state has “a mandate” to take reasonable steps to ensure the security, accuracy and integrity of Kansas elections. Requiring voters to show proof of citizenship when registering will be an inconvenience for voters and an added expense for county election officers, but if Kobach’s office can demonstrate that proving citizenship and showing an ID at the polls are both necessary and effective steps to ensure the integrity of Kansas elections, most Kansas voters probably would go along.
However, that case has not been made. Kobach has said that about three dozen election irregularities reported in the last 12 years indicate there are bigger election problems in the state. That may be true, but let’s take steps to confirm that speculation before taking steps to address whatever specific voting problems the state is facing.