Archive for Friday, November 9, 2012

Kobach fighting release of names

November 9, 2012


TOPEKA — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach declared Friday that “it’s not over” after a judge ordered Shawnee County election officials to give candidates in a tight Kansas House race — including a vocal critic of Kobach — a list of voters who cast provisional ballots.

District Judge Rebecca Crotty ordered the voter names released Friday just hours after Rep. Ann Mah, a Topeka Democrat, filed a lawsuit to gain access to them.

Mah trails her Republican challenger, Ken Corbet, by only 27 votes out of more than 10,600 ballots cast in Tuesday’s election. Mah told The Associated Press she believes about 150 provisional ballots may come into play, though county officials didn’t have an exact count.

The lawsuit, hearing and order came only a day after Kobach’s office sent county election officials two memos advising them not to release such lists, arguing that disclosure would violate both state and federal law. Crotty disagreed, concluding the laws are designed to prevent the release of information about how individuals voted and won’t be violated if only their names are given to the candidates.

Shawnee County officials said they would try to comply by the end of the day, but Kobach told the AP that the dispute is “an ongoing legal proceeding,” without saying specifically how he’ll respond to Crotty’s order.

“I am saying it’s not over,” Kobach said. “This case is about how elections are going to be conducted.”

Voters cast provisional ballots when election workers aren’t sure they are eligible to vote at a particular polling place. The ballots are set aside and reviewed later.

Mah and other Democrats want to contact those voters to ensure they follow through on correcting the problems that forced them to cast provisional ballots in the first place, such as not having a valid photo identification or proof of their addresses. Once those problems are solved, county officials can count their ballots and Mah is hoping she will pick up enough votes to win.

“Our understanding is that there has been a long-standing practice of releasing this information for many, many years,” Mah said before the lawsuit was filed.

Corbet took the news of the ruling in stride, saying he’ll get the same list of voters.

“I’m still confident,” he said. “We’re still positive, and we’re still hoping for the best.”

Democratic Party officials gave the AP a copy of the petition before Mah’s attorney filed it in Shawnee County District Court. It named the Shawnee County Commission as the defendant because the county rejected Mah’s request for voter names and the commission is required to certify election results by Thursday.

Also, with the county commission as the defendant, Kobach’s office did not receive formal notice of the case.

Four members of Kobach’s staff — all in casual-Friday dress — arrived 15 minutes into the hearing, having seen reports about the lawsuit online. Crotty allowed Kobach’s office to intervene and present testimony from Shawnee County Election Commissioner Andrew Howell that compiling a list of names would represent extra work.

Still, Crotty ordered the names released, but only to the candidates.

From the bench, the judge told the parties, “Why don’t we see if there’s any way this can be affected today.”

Shawnee County Counselor Rich Eckert told her, “We’re not going to sit on this.”

Kobach said he’s still concerned about voters’ privacy.

The memos from his office Thursday to county election officials noted that a state law makes it a felony to disclose a ballot’s contents or “the manner in which the ballot has been voted” unless a court orders it.

The memos also cited a federal law that says: “Access to information about an individual provisional ballot shall be restricted to the individual who cast the ballot.”

Kobach’s guidance to election officials drew notice because of its timing — a day after Mah began asking about getting the names of voters — and because of the bitter political differences between the Republican secretary of state and the Democratic legislator.

Mah has criticized a state law championed by Kobach that requires voters to show photo ID at the polls. Campaign finance records show that Prairie Fire, a political action committee set up by Kobach, spent $3,123 on a mailing supporting Corbet on Nov. 2, four days before the election.

Kobach insisted the litigation isn’t about that race. “It’s about a much broader principle.”


bearded_gnome 5 years ago

Mah and other Democrats want to contact those voters to ensure they follow through on correcting the problems that forced them to cast provisional ballots in the first place, such as not having a valid photo identification or proof of their addresses. Once those problems are solved, county officials can count their ballots and Mah is hoping she will pick up enough votes to win.

He's so right. the secret ballot is still secret, even when you vote provisionally.

when those Mah workers contact the provisional voters, given the behavior of democrat canvassers in north lawrence, I'm quite sure they're going to be asking which way people voted, and will be be behaving differently toward those who voted for t their candidate.

protect the ballot.

parrothead8 5 years ago

It's hard to believe their argument was that "compiling a list of names would represent extra work," but I suppose Kobach is worried about it taking time away from all the work he does for people in other states. After all, typing 150 names could take a really long time.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

With Kobach's material support of Corbet in this campaign, he has a considerable conflict of interest. But he doesn't have a shred of integrity in his body, so this is completely in keeping with his character (or lack thereof.)

jafs 5 years ago

Isn't it wrong for him to support a candidate in that way, given his job?

Perhaps somebody should sue him?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

Unfortunately, it's a very weird tradition in this country that the Sec. of State, a partisan, elected position, run the electoral system.

Sometimes that's not so bad, as was the case with Thornburgh, who, though a partisan, was able to keep his partisanship fairly well compartmentalized from his job performance.

But in some instances, such as Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004, the Sec's of State in those states were complete partisans, and used every inch of their offices to affect the outcome of the elections in Bush's favor. They likely did the same with every other elective offices in the state. It's corruption of the highest order.

Tim Quest 5 years ago

"Kobach said he’s still concerned about voters’ privacy."


HazardArea 5 years ago

Kobach is the most vile disingeneous liar in Kansas. (He does so much work for other states - ah, if only he'd move to one of them.) He's not concerned about the voter's privacy. He's concerned about keeping as many spots occupied by Republican teabaggers as he can, legally or not.

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Time for Kris Kobach and Sam Brownback to hit the road and take their assistants with them.

Can we say massive resignations = one glorious day!!! Yes we can.

question4u 5 years ago

The Associated Press has the story and Kobach has managed to give the country one more reason for asking, what's the matter with Kansas?

The state attorney general organizes a PAC that spends money to defeat a candidate who is critical of his performance. When the race ends up so close that the status of provisional ballots matters, instead of making certain that each of those votes is included in the tally and that the outcome is as the voters decided, this attorney general attempts to prevent a process that has been commonly employed in the past and that has been upheld by a district judge – a process that upholds the integrity of the election process.

It seems that conflict of interest is one more ethical violation that some Kansans are willing to overlook. An attorney general who was actually interested in a fair election process would have ensured that a review of those provisional ballots was carried out by a non-partisan committee of election officials. It should never have had to come down to a candidate having to ask for the list of provisional voters. A state attorney general with integrity would have made sure that there was no question about the election outcome and that the candidates and the voters were satisfied that the outcome was correct.

Instead, Kansas has Kobach, the same guy who said that he couldn't dismiss a suit to keep Obama off of the Kansas ballot because he needed to have more evidence that the birther conspiracy wasn't true. But we don't need to verify who actually won an election in Kansas as longs as the candidate backed by the state attorney general is currently on top? Wow, if you ever needed a definition of hypocrisy...

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

Kobach thinks he's attorney general (or maybe governor?) but he's the Sec. of State.

Paul R Getto 5 years ago

Which is, in essence, a fancy clerk.

Bob_Keeshan 5 years ago

The Kansas GOP, defenders of smaller, open government, right?

Four taxpayer funded SOS officials at one hearing. That's pretty impressive.

rbwaa 5 years ago

Topeka Capital Journal posted this "The Shawnee County election commissioner, acting under an order issued Friday by a state district court judge in Topeka, has released names of 104 people casting provisional votes to both candidates in the hotly contested race for the 54th District seat in the Kansas House."

FlintHawk 5 years ago

Enlightening to read cj readers' comments on their article. Makes our Douglas County "conservatives" seem tame by comparison.

rbwaa 5 years ago

Also: "Kobach did not get the decision he was seeking before Howell emailed the list of names to both candidates, but said he would still seek ways to prevent the names from being used."

I guess that's the temper tantrum...

ksjayhawk74 5 years ago

It's ironic the Kobach, the champion of voter ID laws, doesn't want these voters to be identified...

It sure would be easy to swing an election by sending in illegitimate voters to get provisional ballots and then fight against having said provisional ballots scrutinized.

Kirk Larson 5 years ago

It would not surprise me to find out that a preponderance of these names had vowels at the end.

Becky Henderson 5 years ago

Yes, he was elected by the majority of KS voters but those of us who were in the minority and voted against him do still expect him to do his job. And that job doesn't change depending on whether he likes the D or the R at the end of a person's name. If he can't be fair and impartial, he shouldn't have started his own PAC. And if he can't disassociate himself from the candidate that PAC backed, he should recuse himself from situations like this. Oops, I guess that means he should just resign.

Liberty275 5 years ago

I suggest Mr Kobach make public all the names of persons that voted in Kansas so anyone that wants to interfere with a vote that has not already been counted can figure out who it belongs too and give them a little "help" filling in the ballot.

Give them the 150 names intermixed with the other 390,000. Why shouldn't anyone be given those name under a KORA request? If you give one, you have to give them all (14th amendment).

Give them what they want. On paper. In pencil.

chootspa 5 years ago

Liberty275 has never heard that saying. Of that, I have no doubt.

Liberty275 5 years ago

I'd be more quiet if I were you.

Liberty275 5 years ago


We aren't talking about prior elections, we are talking about a current election in which all of the voted have not been counted. The woman wants to know how people voted ((early, normal or provisional), none of which is her business) and she wants to interfere with the election after the deadline for casting ballots.

Tell me something. Would you give candidate Brownback a list of names of people whose vote are yet to be counted so he could " contact those voters" before the votes are counted?

This is how things work. People vote. Votes are counted. Winner is announced. If we start letting candidate counsel individual voters concerning a vote they have already cast and allow them to "help" people with their ballots, that is blatant election fraud.

You are in favor of enabling election fraud when it helps your person win. I'm not surprised.

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