Editorial: Kobach is not doing his job

Secretary of state had a legal obligation to publicize new voting schedule, but he did very little

Instead of helping President Donald Trump promote the myth of widespread voter fraud around the U.S., perhaps Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach should spend more time serving the voters of Kansas.

Turnout in Tuesday’s municipal primary elections was an abysmal 10 percent in Douglas County and extremely low elsewhere in the state. Part of the problem is that Kobach’s office did little to educate the public about the new election date, even though his office was explicitly directed to do so in the 2015 bill that moved city and school board elections from the spring to the fall in odd-numbered years.

The bill directed the secretary of state’s office to develop a public information program to inform voters of the election change, which meant that instead of municipal elections in April with primaries in February or March, elections would now be held in November with primaries in August.

“Such public information program shall include, at a minimum, the explanation of which public office elections are being transferred from spring to fall elections,” the new statute reads. “The program shall include the use of advertisements and public service announcements as well as posting of information on the opening pages of the official internet websites of the secretary of state and county election officers.”

But beyond putting some information on the secretary of state’s website, there is no evidence that Kobach’s office promoted the election change with advertising or public service announcements. It appears that Kobach’s office did little at all to create awareness of the new primary date.

Imagine if Kobach invested as much time in promoting election awareness and participation as he does in fighting the ACLU’s efforts to grow voter registration or helping Trump advance the theory that he would have won the popular vote over Hillary Clinton if not for up to 5 million illegal votes. Kobach is serving as the vice chair of the controversial Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which supposedly is investigating Trump’s illegal vote claims.

The motivating factor behind lawmakers’ push to change the dates for municipal elections was to increase voter participation. That’s certainly not what happened in this week’s primary. Hopefully, Kobach will do a better job promoting election awareness between now and November. He certainly can’t do much worse.