Lawrence man asks Kansas Supreme Court to order grand jury probe of Kobach

A Lawrence man is asking the Kansas Supreme Court to order Douglas County court officials to summon a grand jury to investigate Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Steven X. Davis, who ran unsuccessfully in the Aug. 2 Democratic primary for a seat in the Kansas House, wants a grand jury to investigate what he has called “rumors” that Kobach’s office has mishandled information submitted when people try to register online to vote.

Using a Kansas statute that enables citizens to initiate grand jury probes, Davis submitted petition signatures to the Douglas County District Court in July calling for a grand jury to be summoned.

But Douglas County Chief Judge Robert Fairchild issued an order Aug. 18 rejecting that petition, saying the allegations were not specific enough to meet the requirements of the statute.

“The petition makes no allegations of specific facts that would warrant a finding that such inquiry may lead to information which, if true, would warrant a true bill of indictment,” Fairchild wrote.

Davis announced Tuesday that he has since filed a motion with the Kansas Supreme Court asking for a writ of mandamus, a type of order that either compels a public official to perform a required duty, or prohibits an official from taking actions that are not allowed by law.

The Kansas Department of Revenue operates a website, in conjunction with the secretary of state’s office, that allows people to register online to vote. That website also allows people to upload copies of documents, including proof of U.S. citizenship, that are needed to complete the registration.

Those applications are then supposed to be forwarded to the secretary of state’s office, then to county election offices.

“However, there have been rumors that the applications and documents have been disappearing before reaching the county election officers, and a grand jury will be able to conduct an official criminal investigation into these allegations,” Davis said when he filed the petitions in July.

Both Kobach’s office and the Department of Revenue have denied that such a problem exists, and both have said they have received no complaints from applicants claiming their registration and documents did not go through.