Archive for Thursday, October 8, 2015

Kobach defends Kansas voting laws at KU symposium

October 8, 2015

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Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Wednesday that the restrictive voting laws he helped champion in 2011 are important tools in preventing election fraud.

And he said that within the next week, he will start utilizing another tool Kansas lawmakers gave him this year, the power to prosecute people for voting illegally.

"We will be filing the first cases within the next week," Kobach said during a symposium on the Kansas University campus.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, left, and Kansas University law professor Stephen McAllister respond to questions from an audience on the KU campus during a symposium on voting laws entitled "Protecting the Vote."

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, left, and Kansas University law professor Stephen McAllister respond to questions from an audience on the KU campus during a symposium on voting laws entitled "Protecting the Vote."

The symposium, entitled "Protecting the Vote," was jointly sponsored by several KU departments to mark the 50th anniversary of passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which is considered to be one of the landmark pieces of legislation to emerge from the civil rights movement.

But the U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down one key provision of the act, requiring states with histories of voter discrimination to get federal approval before making changes in their voting laws.

Kansas is one of a handful of states that have begun enacting new restrictions on voting rights. The laws Kobach pushed through during his first year in office require new voters to show proof of U.S. citizenship in order to register and all voters to show photo ID at the polls in order to cast a ballot.

The proof of citizenship law is now being challenged in both state and federal courts. But Kobach said he believes the laws are needed to protect the integrity of Kansas elections.

"It's amazing how easy it is to double-vote," Kobach said, referring to the practice of one individual casting multiple ballots from different locations in a single election. "No state in America has the power to stop you from double-voting before it happens. There is no live update of who's voted and at what time. ... But we can detect it after it occurs."

Kobach also noted that when those laws were enacted, they passed both chambers of the Legislature by wide bipartisan margins.

During the program, Kobach was first interviewed about the laws by KU law professor Stephen McAllister. He then took questions from the audience, many of whom were sharply critical of Kobach and his policies.

One man questioned Kobach's assertion that during a 15-year period, from 1997 through 2011, there were 237 cases of suspected illegal voting in Kansas that went unprosecuted, calling that a "petty" amount compared to the many millions of ballots that were cast in all elections in Kansas during that period.

But Kobach replied, as he has many times in the past, that such an argument is a "red herring."

"The question is, 'Are there enough illegal votes cast to sway any particular election?'" Kobach said. "And the answer is yes, all the time."

He noted that over a recent 10-year period in Kansas, 24 congressional and state legislative races were decided by 50 votes or less, arguing that in such races, even a tiny number of illegal votes could make the difference.

Moments later, however, Kobach brushed aside criticism that the photo ID and proof of citizenship requirements have an even bigger impact by preventing otherwise qualified voters from being able to cast ballots.

In 2012, for example, Kobach noted that out of 1.2 million ballots cast, 838 people filed provisional ballots because they could not produce photo IDs at the polls.

"That's .07 percent, or seven one-hundredths of a percent," Kobach said. "Fewer than one in a thousand."

Of those, he said, 306 people presented their photo ID before the deadline when the final canvass was taken. That left 532 people in a single election whose ballots were not counted because they could not produce a photo ID, more than double the number of allegedly illegal ballots cast in Kansas over a 15-year period.

"The evidence just isn't there" to show the laws are suppressing voter turnout, Kobach said.

Several people also questioned why Kobach has opposed giving Wichita State University mathematician Beth Clarkson access to the paper records of electronic voting machines in Sedgwick County, where she alleges there were unusual patterns that might suggest the machines had been tampered with.

Kobach said current Kansas law requires all ballots to be sealed after the final tallies are certified, a law he said protects the privacy of voters in very small precincts where one could look at such records and determine how an individual person voted.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas is suing in Shawnee County District Court, seeking an order that would force Kobach's office to accept federal voter registration forms, which do not ask for proof of citizenship. That case threatens to weaken the law substantially because if the plaintiffs win, any voter could circumvent the state law simply by registering with the federal form.

A federal lawsuit filed by Lawrence attorney and former Democratic legislator Paul Davis seeks to overturn the proof of citizenship law entirely as unconstitutional. It also seeks to block a new administrative rule Kobach enacted that automatically cancels a person's voter registration application if they do not provide the proof of citizenship documents within 90 days.

A federal district judge is expected to announce a schedule for briefs and arguments in that case soon.

Comments

Richard Heckler 2 years, 2 months ago

The Kobach plan to suppress votes can sway an election the ALEC way which is the plan so says the book "Billionaires and ballot bandits."

Michael Kaufman 2 years, 2 months ago

It will be interesting if he can find voters to prosecute under his new law. Every other group that has gone looking for, and successfully prosecuting presumed election fraud, have basically come up empty. Finding in person voter fraud is hard, because the investigation is way after the fact. Prosecution is even harder, because you have to prove intent. Simply making a mistake (voting in the wrong precinct, failure to move your registration when you move, are hardly the type of rampant violations of the law that the GOP is looking for. There claim is that every vote that is not for them is fraudulent. Good luck to him. Waiting to see the results of his personal fraud investigation.

Mike Green 2 years, 2 months ago

Under the law Kobach championed, intent is not required for prosecution or conviction. Kobach himself referenced the case of the man who filled out an absentee ballot, then forgot and voted again after he was moved to a nursing home. Absentee ballots are where the real fraud lies.

Barb Gordon 2 years, 2 months ago

I'd like to see him start jailing old men in nursing homes and see how that plays out in the media.

Glenda Breese 2 years, 2 months ago

DUh da da dumb Of Kobach to think they can keep this up without consequenses.

Ken Lassman 2 years, 2 months ago

Kobach's intellectual disconnect between suppressing voters and having illegal voters is stunning. If the vote of an illegal voter can sway an election, so can the non-vote of a suppressed voter.To hear him go on and on about how elections can be swayed by illegal votes and then turn right around and say that suspended voters are insignificant and do not even represent suppression is a kind of blindered logic that takes my breath away.

Then the "I could identify how an individual voted in a small precinct by process of elimination" argument when applied to Sedgwick county is truly pathetic, considering there's over half a million people in that county. If Kobach was truly interested in fair elections, he should show the necessary leadership he has wielded in changing voter ID laws to change any laws that prevents the analysis of voters to see if machine voting may have any voting irregularity patterns. To change one set of laws while hiding behind the other is blatantly hypocritical.

Lawrence Freeman 2 years, 2 months ago

koback is the personification of a two-faced liar.

Greg Cooper 2 years, 2 months ago

Absolutely spot, on, Ken. Kobach's twisted, labyrinthian "explanations" do nothing for the thinking person but point out the illogical, political nature of these laws.

Phillip Chappuie 2 years, 2 months ago

So in my mind Kobach will need to put up or shut up. He is going to file fraudulent voting cases next week. Let us just see who is charged and where and who was in said election and who won by what margins. It better be something more than someone attempting to vote in the wrong place because they moved or grandma trying to use her ID from when she worked in the Boeing plant in 1944. Let's just see how much fraud based on malicious intent trying to upend the system is out there. Because up to now it has been nothing more than a dog and pony show with no substance.

Bob Summers 2 years, 2 months ago

How does Kobach know there is voter fraud if there is no identification of voters?

Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 years, 2 months ago

"Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Wednesday that the restrictive voting laws he helped champion in 2011 are important tools in preventing election fraud."

And this assures that all voters who might vote Democratic or anything but the Koch Industries Regime requirements are suppressed and rejected.

Kochbach is a first rate dyed in the wool fascist and he was elected by the great unwashed of Kansas. Ain't ya proud????

Stuart Evans 2 years, 2 months ago

Finally, Kobach is going to put himself and Brownback on trial for election fraud.

Tracy Rogers 2 years, 2 months ago

"Kobach said current Kansas law requires all ballots to be sealed after the final tallies are certified, a law he said protects the privacy of voters in very small precincts where one could look at such records and determine how an individual person voted."

In other words, one could look at such records a determine whose votes were changed.

Barb Gordon 2 years, 2 months ago

So basically he doesn't need strict ID laws for any of this. He's going after double voters, not the imaginary army of non-citizens and is hoping we don't notice the difference.

You can find people who voted in two states or who filled out both an absentee and an in-person ballot without asking any of them for birth certificates.

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