Archive for Thursday, September 10, 2015

Kobach debates voter ID laws with KU law professor

September 10, 2015


Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach squared off Thursday in a debate with a Kansas University law professor over the pros and cons of restrictive voter identification laws.

Kobach, who was the architect of Kansas' 2011 law requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls and to show proof of U.S. citizenship to register, argued that such laws are needed to prevent voter fraud and protect the integrity of Kansas elections.

The two men debated before about 100 people, most of them law students, in a lecture auditorium at the KU School of Law in Green Hall. The debate was sponsored by the KU Federalist Society and the Hispanic-American Law Students Association.

"Election fraud occurs," Kobach said. And while the number of such cases may be tiny compared to the total number of ballots cast in any given election, he said it only takes a small number of votes to "steal" an otherwise close election.

Kansas University professor of law Mark Johnson, right,  and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach argue opposing opinions about the necessity of Voter ID laws during a debate Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015 in Green Hall on the campus of Kansas University.

Kansas University professor of law Mark Johnson, right, and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach argue opposing opinions about the necessity of Voter ID laws during a debate Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015 in Green Hall on the campus of Kansas University.

He said that from 1997 through 2010, the year before Kansas enacted the new restrictions, county election officials in Kansas reported more than 220 instances of suspected voter fraud.

One of the most notable cases, he said, occurred in 1997 during a ballot initiative in Seward County, in southwest Kansas, over the issue of allowing large-scale corporate hog farms in the county, which would supply hogs to a pork processing plant in nearby Guymon, Okla.

He said it was alleged that more than 50 Oklahoma residents who worked at the plant, including some believed to be non-U.S. citizens, attempted to register in Seward County to vote in that election.

But KU law professor Mark Johnson, who teaches courses in elections and campaign finance, argued that the small number of allegedly fraudulent votes does not justify denying other people the right to vote simply because they cannot produce a photo ID or proof of citizenship.

Johnson pointed out that there are more than half a million elected officials in the United States. In Kansas alone, he said, there are more than 3,800 local units of government, including county commissions, city governments, townships, school boards and a wide variety of special-purpose governments such as drainage districts and soil conservation districts, all of which have are governed by boards made up of multiple elected officials.

"And how many examples of voter fraud do you actually have?" Johnson asked. "We don't have many at all, and in some cases, none at all."

While the stated reason for enacting such laws is to prevent voter fraud, Johnson argued that they are most prevalent where state governments are controlled by Republicans, and he said there is a wide perception that their purpose is to suppress turnout among people who are more inclined to vote for Democrats.

The debate was disrupted only once by a protester, George Misdary of Lenexa, who shouted out after Kobach's presentation that Kobach's entire case was predicated on a few hundred suspected cases of voter fraud, spread out over 13 years.

"That's the thrust of your entire argument," said Misdary. "Wow, I was expecting a little more from you than that.

Misdary sat in the back of the lecture hall holding a sign that read "vote thief." He sat with a friend, Suezanne Bishop, a third-year law student, who held another sign that read "You're the Fraud."

Others in the audience were more reserved during the debate, although some asked equally pointed questions of Kobach, including one student who suggested the law is intended more to protect politicians than voters.

"Putting aside any of the political discussion of whether this favors one party or the other, why should I care more about the elected official who feels they lost their election for fraud than I do for the citizen who feels that their right to vote is burdened?" the student asked.

Kobach, however, argued that every fraudulent vote cancels out some other vote that was cast legally. Johnson, on the other hand, argued that it's hard enough convincing people that their votes matter, and that putting up barriers to voting only discourages them further.

Kansas lawmakers passed the Secure and Fair Elections, or SAFE Act, at Kobach's urging, in 2011. It was the first law enacted by any state that required both proof of citizenship for people to register to vote and photo ID at polling places to cast a ballot.

Several other states have enacted similar laws in recent years, and most have been the subject of intense litigation.

In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Indiana law that requires voters to show photo ID at the polls. But the legality of Kansas' proof-of-citizenship law for voter registration is still in doubt.

In 2013, the Supreme Court said that states must accept federal voter registration forms, which do not require proof of citizenship, at least for purposes of federal elections.

Since then, Kobach has implemented a system of "dual registration" that allows people who registered using the federal form to vote in federal elections. But he only allows people who register using the state form and who show proof of citizenship to vote in state and local elections.

That dual system is now the target of an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit that is pending in Shawnee County District Court.


Richard Heckler 2 years, 6 months ago

The first and foremost tool for eliminating election fraud is to eliminate computerized voting machines that which can be hacked any day of the week.

Computerized voting machines can be programmed to vote wrong in addition to printing wrong information on a "receipt" that deceives the voter. Eliminate computerized voting machines.

Considering voting fraud is mostly non existent except in the minds of those who support voter suppression such as the American Legislative Exchange Council and their puppets such as Kobach and the Brownback administration.

Another source of voter fraud is the training camp that teaches ALEC candidates how to come off as democrats and republicans which is lying to the public thus fraud. This culprit promotes fraud:

Richard Aronoff 2 years, 6 months ago

The most widely used machines are manufactured overseas by a company owned by George Soros.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 6 months ago

Perhaps voters have been unknowingly removed from the polls so beware as this is an ongoing dirty tool. This ALEC GOP right wing party is a master at discouraging voters from participating in their right to vote so be strong.

The ALEC GOP right wing party is posing as the republican party which is fraudulent representation of the GOP . Their primary objective is to have America as a one party nation under Libertarian/Christian Fundamentalist rule.

Rather than serve the public interest, ALEC GOP right wing party champions the agenda of corporations which are willing to pay for access to legislators and the opportunity to write their very own legislation.

Bill Moyers on the United States of ALEC posing as the GOP:

Richard Heckler 2 years, 6 months ago

Right Wing politicians which are not necessarily republican but yes extremely radical are on a 24/7 schedule to suppress your right to vote. Which likely guarantees them election.

These anti americans have this down to a science which is to say they know exactly how many suppressed votes are necessary to win. Do NOT under estimate.

Voters ORGANIZING A VOTING DAY PACKET might be a preventive measure which could include:

--- a birth certificate

--- a drivers license or state ID card

--- proof of voter registration etc etc etc.

--- Keep this packet close to protect your right to vote

--- Check your voting status frequently

Protect YOURSELF from possible voting fraud/theft on all election days.


Tune In to Democracy NOW ! 90.1FM five days a week.

Brownback Administration Associates have in place as we speak a plan to steal all future elections. This plan has been working elsewhere in the USA with Billionaires and Ballot Bandits.




Jonathan Becker 2 years, 6 months ago

Heckler also subscribes to the theory that there was a second gunman IN the Texas School Book Depository.

The legislature gave Kobach authority to prosecute voter fraud. Anyone heard or seen a case filed yet? No? Kobach is too busy remodeling his barn

Greg Cooper 2 years, 6 months ago

So one fraudulent vote cancels out one legal vote. Hmmm. Seems to me that that statement presumes the fraudulent vote opposes an opposite vote, right? So, Kris, how do you justify that statement? Is it a lie, or do you know which side the fraudulent voter voted for? Is it simply impossible to believe that a fraudulent voter might have voted FOR the winning side?

The stupidity exhibited in that statement embodies the Kansas Republican dogma: they're right, everyone else is wrong, and they will change those laws that stand in the way of their being right. It can NOT be determined that fraudulent votes are anti-Republican, unless someone has access to the actual voter and his/her actual voting record in that vote.

We have had in place programs to defer fraudulent vote attempts, but Kobach's handlers need an emotional issue to make sure a large bloc of voters don't vote the wrong way. Studies have shown racial and age biases in voter suppression, and the Repub strategy is to target those who are least able to obtain the newly required documentation, a group that just happens to have a large percentage of those people.

I'm sick to death of the Republican Party, state and national, making false claims backed by nothing more than emotionally backed rhetoric appealing to voters who haven't enough pride to research and think about the issues they vote on. I'm incensed that we, the people, are content, in our state, to let these thugs run over us, ignore the common good in favor of creating a faux-Libertarian paradise for the wealthy. And make no mistake, people: the entire thrust of this party's political, social and economic plan is the taking of the state from the people and giving it to the moneyed among us.

The next time you have a chance to make your voice heard at the ballot box, you had damned well better remember what you want from this state, as well as what you can contribute. Your vote for liberty is all that can stop this juggernaut, and, if you really think that the democratic republic is worth keeping, you had better be a part of making it happen.

As the "opposition" used to say, "If you're not a part of the solution, you're part of the problem". Only YOU can make the choice. Only YOU can make the difference.

Scott Burkhart 2 years, 6 months ago

There is the side of the argument where you have to have a photo I.D. to perform certain functions in our society as it is. You must have a driver's license to drive a car. You must have a photo I.D. to obtain public assistance like a SNAP card. You have to have a photo I.D. to open a bank account. Obtaining the I.D. is free of charge if you need one and Kobach has stated as much. I feel it is better to have procedures in place to prevent fraud than to nod, wink, and say that there are only a few and they don't matter. If you want a photo I.D., you can get a photo I.D.

Cille King 2 years, 6 months ago

Over 30,000 Kansans are on the suspense list, and unable to vote, not because they don't have a government issued photo ID, but because their proof of citizenship has not reached the county election officials.

The SOS's proposed regulations to remove those names who filed a voter application, but who have been on the suspense list for more than 90 days, is expected to happen by early October.

John Middleton 2 years, 6 months ago

Or perhaps they continue on the suspense list because they have personally not taken any steps to provide the required documentation... just maybe...

Greg Cooper 2 years, 6 months ago

The point, John, is that they should NOT have to prove something that even the federal government realizes does NOT have to be proven unless and until there is suspicion of wrongdoing.

Why is this such a hard concept to swallow? People are not guilty of a crime unless proven to be, and we don't go around investigating everyone every day for every crime UNTIL there is reasonable suspicion that they have done something wrong.

For those who have swallowed the hysteria caused by this non-issue, get a clue as to the country you live in. When, and IF, the officials in charge of gathering criminal and civil information find a hint of voting fraud, THEN you can scream bloody murder if you want. Until then, we still live under a system that presumes people are lawfully going about their business.

No matter what.

Chuck Holder 2 years, 6 months ago

FYI a Kansas ID card costs $25 at the DMV.

Greg Cooper 2 years, 6 months ago

And when applied to the right to vote is a poll tax. And poll taxes are illegal. The cost is no issue: the fact of the tax is.

Simple law, folks.

David Carson 2 years, 6 months ago

Voting is a right, same old useless argument. Can you prove how much voter fraud there is, Scott? No, you can't. Neither can that lying Kobach.

Greg Cooper 2 years, 6 months ago

Scott, it seems so simple, doesn't it? Just hop in your car, drive to the DMV, stand in line for a bit, and, voila, you have a picture ID. Simple, no?

Now, this picture ID does no god if you can't produce a "proof of citizenship", now does it? I, personally, moved several years ago, and I don't think I could put my hands on my birth certificate even mow. If I were too poor, too uninformed as to where to get a copy, it makes no difference.

The real question, Scott, is why is it necessary to prove something that the law already assumes: you are a citizen if you say you are. Just as if you say you are not a criminal, you aren't until and unless someone has reasonable suspicion that you are, and then we have procedures to follow up on that suspicion.

Face it, please: disenfranchising a portion of the population is the thrust of this "movement". Whether you're brown, poor, yellow, it has just become more difficult to fight for yourself. Don't try to tell those who can now not vote anything different because it would be a lie.

Phillip Chappuie 2 years, 6 months ago

I've been voting for over 40 years and in small town rural Kansas the poll workers are going to know most everybody that comes in. In populous Kansas it doesn't matter since the conservatives win by landslides about 99% of the time. Now if the only example the No Proper Permit boy can show is some Oklahoma boys coming up and voting for some hog farm deal 18 years ago his argument is pretty weak. I think most reasonable Kansans grow weary of politicians creating solutions for problems they have to invent.

Barbara Johnston 2 years, 6 months ago

Here is what we should have in our "democracy:" anyone with a Social Security card should be able to go to a poll and register on the spot, and then vote. The votes as R. Heckler noted, should be counted and verified. Voting machines are certainly not trustworthy. Early voting should be encouraged, to diminish large numbers of people voting at the same time.

Lynn Grant 2 years, 6 months ago

KKK appears to be basing his opinion on cases of "allegedly." The situation in Seward County is such. 50 people from Oklahoma allegedly attempted to register to vote. Alleged means to assert without proof" and attempted implies that they were not successful. It appears that maybe something in the system worked to prevent those illegal votes and that was before Kommissar Koback appeared on the scene. It comes down to the question if Kobach is so committed to eliminated "voter fraud" why won't he work with Beth Clarkson to clear up "alleged" voting machine improprieties?

Armen Kurdian 2 years, 6 months ago

There hasn't been a single argument that holds water on this board about why we should not have a Voter ID law. It protects everyone. That said, you can't disenfranchise someone simply because they don't drive, or don't otherwise have some form of Govt ID. Has to be free & easy to get. It's too easy to pass yourself off as someone else, and may be impossible to discover.

You could try a system (it may lengthen voting times unless you have more poll workers) where those w/o a photo ID would be permitted to vote, but could present a utility bill as proof. Then you take a sampling of those folks who had no photo ID, and close the loop, and contact the individual after the election is done to confirm it was him or her that voted. That would provide hard evidence one way or the other regarding voter fraud.

Phillip Chappuie 2 years, 6 months ago

There hasn't been a single argument that holds water on this board about why we should not have a Voter ID law.

Because the 15th amendment says we have a right to vote. The federal registration requires a signed affidavit swearing one is a citizen. That is good enough. Anything less creates disparate treatment. And when did running down a birth certificate become free and easy? In kobach's world a guy without a birth certificate could have lived in the same place for 50 years and everybody in town knows him, plus his parents and grandparents are buried in the local cemetery..but Kris is going to put him in suspense without the proper papers. Papers please.

Mike Green 2 years, 6 months ago

The elephant in the room is the goal of the people proposing these kinds of laws is not to protect voter integrity, it is to suppress votes. Any discussions on individual laws is meaningless, the intent is to suppress votes. It is not conspiracy theory, it is fact. You hear no discussion of the most vulnerable form of voting - absentee ballots. No ID, no verification, no secrecy, churches, military units have " bring your ballot" information meetings, ballots are filled out by partners. In the last election a military officer was on CNN with a handful of ballots proclaiming "I tell my men to fill out their ballots, or bring it to me and I will do it for them." A secret ballot is a foundation of vote integrity, it is non-existent with absentee ballots, but the people who tend to vote absentee are a very different voting block from those who have trouble procuring a picture ID.

David Reber 2 years, 6 months ago

Whether there is or is not voter fraud is irrelevant. In this country, people don't have to prove their innocence or pay fees to the government in order to exercise a constitutional right.

Yes, more freedom for all means more people will get away with crimes. Think of this: right now, there are a lot of people doing illegal things inside their homes, cars, places of business, etc. Just think how much crime we could stop if we all agreed to submit to random searches of our homes & such. Who's first? C'mon, voter-ID/proof-of-citizenship folks....step up.

And poll taxes. Didn't we settle that YEARS ago? Birth certificates aren't free. Sure, Kansas might say you can have your KANSAS birth certificate free - if you're using it to register to vote. But try getting your NY, NJ, NE, CA, etc.,....birth certificates for free. Let us know how that goes.

Finally, if there is any doubt at all that this has NOTHING to do with preventing illegal immigrants from voting...., guess what? Illegal immigrants can't have guns, either. So, Kobach & Co., how about a law requiring people with guns to show proof of citizenship upon demand? No? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Armen Kurdian 2 years, 6 months ago

Great, so we are all in agreement that there isn't any reason not to have a voter ID law, that we can put in place procedures or methods whereby an individual can prove who they are prior to casting a vote. That we don't advocate for poll taxes, that we don't want illegals voting, or dead people voting, or people voting twice. And it's great that we can all agree that voter fraud is different from so-called victimless crimes because voter fraud could have an effect outside of our own personal lives. And that we want to help protect the integrity of our electoral process to prevent fraudulent elections from occurring.

Great job everyone!

Greg Cooper 2 years, 6 months ago

Where the hell did that load of bull come from?

Franz Bruyere 2 years, 6 months ago

I'm going to say that I agree with having to prove your ID in order to vote... that's my belief and my belief is no more/less valid than someone elses.

However, on the subject of 'right vs privilege vs responsibility', there have been many cases of this being reviewed, both at public level and government level (do a google search for "is voting a right or a privilege?")

According to a poll at (and in defense / opposition to the poll, I have no idea when it was done), the majority of people who answered the poll stated that voting is a privilege, not a right, for the reason that rights cannot be taken away and privileges can be:

The above page is by no means the only page dealing with this subject, and may be no more reliable than any other.

However, the points states by the respondents to the poll are pretty valid:

Rights cannot be taken away and must be granted to all citizens, even felons and minors.

Privileges are only for those who 'qualify', which would include only people who 'should' vote.

Who decides who votes? The States right now, and that is the reason the States should set equal and fair voting rules / guidelines.

Mike Green 2 years, 6 months ago

" the right to vote is not to be "denied or abridged on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." - 15th amendment. Most accept liberty as a right, but it is "abridged" in the case of people who have committed a crime. " previous servitude" seems a case for freed felons being eligible, the 13th amendment does refer to "involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime" however. I think the constitution also restricts the right to only males.

Richard Aronoff 2 years, 6 months ago

I don't believe there have been any documented cases of voter fraud in Kansas. And the last two presidential elections demonstrate that if the GOP was trying to prevent voting for Democratic candidates they're not very good at it.

But I don't understand the objection to requiring some sort of ID to vote. I need a photo ID to open a bank account. I need a photo ID to board a plane. I needed to present either a birth certificate or a passport to get a Kansas driver's license even though I had a current license from another state.

After the eye test and the paper work was completed and the passport was presented only then was I asked if I wanted to register to vote. But voter registration was never mentioned as the reason for requiring the aforementioned documentation to get the state driver's license.

Sylvie Rueff 2 years, 6 months ago

When I investigated how much it could cost to obtain an ID which would qualify to register to vote under Kansas requirements, I found it could cost from $45 to $225. From a state ID card to a US passport, including acquiring a birth certificate from a state charging the lowest amount for a copy, or a copy of naturalization papers. The wait to get the required documents in-hand could be as long as 12 weeks. I believe, our Secretary of State's actions qualify as a poll tax, and as voter obstruction, which are Federal crimes.

All you already registered voters, vote regularly and don't move.

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