Archive for Friday, May 12, 2017

Editorial: Kobach keeps playing games

The secretary of state’s resistance to sharing document is emblematic of his persistent lack of leadership.

May 12, 2017

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Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is a thought leader. If you don’t believe so, just ask him.

At least that has been the image Kobach has long conveyed. When it comes to preventing voter fraud and illegal immigrants from influencing our elections, Kobach has touted himself as one of the pre-eminent authorities in the entire country. His talents are so immense he apparently feels he has an obligation to take some time away from his duties as Kansas Secretary of State to advise other states on election law related to illegal immigrants.

Kobach’s reputation allowed him to do something very rare indeed: present an idea to the president. Usually that requires Twitter, but Kobach actually got to do so in person. Thanks to an Associated Press photograph from that meeting there’s reason to believe Kobach’s idea included proposed changes to the National Voter Registration Act. The photo showed Kobach holding a document while shaking hands with then-President-elect Trump in November. The contents of the document were partially visible in the photo, and the text indicated changes to the National Voter Registration Act were among Kobach’s proposals.

The American Civil Liberties Union has sued to see the document. It may be pertinent to a case the ACLU has challenging Kansas’ voter registration requirements. If Kobach is proposing changes to federal voter registration law, it conceivably may be because Kobach is concerned Kansas’ new law doesn’t comply with the existing federal law.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson ordered, despite objections from Kobach, that he provide the document to the ACLU by Friday.

It is interesting that Kobach doesn’t want to share the document. He apparently thinks the idea is a good one. He presented it to the president. Kobach is an elected official. Elected officials are judged, among other things, on the quality of their ideas. If Kobach has such a fantastic idea that it is worthy of the president’s time, shouldn’t Kansas voters have a chance to hear it too?

Likely, there is some reason related to political strategy that Kobach doesn’t want the idea made public. Kobach is just one of many politicians who are enamored with their strategic minds. The general population: Not so much so. When politicians begin to strategize, they would do well to remind themselves of their actual talents by looking at the country. Washington, D.C., many days is on the verge of dysfunction. Kansas, being an overachiever, often seeks to go one step further. It is on the verge of being dysfunctional and destitute. So much for strategy.

Judge Robinson’s ruling ordering Kobach to turn over the documents was a good one. The documents may be relevant to a lawsuit, but, more importantly, Kobach is an elected official who oversees voting laws. If he is lobbying to change those laws, he should do so in public. Given that Kobach has been appointed by Trump to be vice chair of a new national commission reviewing voter fraud and voter suppression, it is particularly important for Kobach’s views to be shared publicly.

It is unfortunate Judge Robinson can’t issue another order that would apply to all politicians: Quit the games. Say what is on your mind. Debate the merits of your ideas. Compromise when needed. In other words, be less of a politician and more of a leader.

Comments

Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Kobach is typical of the office holders elected by clueless voters who slavishly pursue the problematic Kansas Republican Party. Look what we have for a "governor". Look at the financial mess that the current "governor" has created. Typical.

Irresponsible to the state government, dedicated to his own aggrandizement, and shirking the job he was elected for in Kansas. Typical.

The fact that the non-president would select him for any purpose is typical of the fool we have in the White House. Birds of a feather.

Brock Masters 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I agree about the governor and the financial mess, but question what duties Kobach has shirked. Please be specific Fred.

Ken Lassman 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Brock, others, I can specifically state duties that Kobach has shirked: he has let our citizens down in getting them to participate in the electoral process concerning local, state and national elections. I can think of no more important duty of the Secretary of State than getting maximum reliable participation in our elections if we are truly interested in having a functioning democracy.

Instead of spending undue resources and staff time trying to ferret out those nefarious unregistered aliens within our state's borders, throwing our elections (and to no avail: so far he has found a total of 8 or so folks who voted in two states, all of whom were citizens and I believe Republicans to boot), and putting tens of thousands of voters trying to register on "suspense" pending further required paperwork, he has notably ignored the following statistics:

In the 2016 election, there were 1,817,920 registered voters in Kansas and only 1,225,667 voted. That means 592,253 registered voters did not vote, or 32% of the registered electorate. In the last non-presidential election in 2014, the number of registered non-voters was 49.3%, and in that year's primary the number of non-voting registered voters was 79.8%.

Now I don't know about you, but 592,253 people is more than the combined number of people living in Wichita, Topeka, Salina and Emporia. Why are these voters never mentioned by our Secretary of State or more efforts made to get these folks out to vote? If this isn't shirking a basic responsibility of the job, I don't know what is.

And another major area of shirkitude (you read it here first) is not registering everyone who is eligible. According to the 2015 US Census, in 2015 there were 2,074,102 Kansans over 18, so rounding at 2 million if you remove felons serving their sentences, number of adults under guardianship, etc. So there are roughly an additional 200,000 folks out there who need to register to vote who are eligible. Once again, that's more than the number of people living in Overland Park (184,000).

Have you ever heard Mr. Kobach state that his responsibility is to have every eligible person registered to vote, and then to have as many of them actually show up at the polls to vote? So those are the specific ways that Mr. Kobach has shirked his fundamental responsibilities as our Secretary of State.

Brock Masters 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Is it actually the SOS's responsibility to have people vote? I wasn't able to find that responsibility in the Constitution or statutes. Is it there?

In 2008 28% didn't vote and in 2006 48% didn't vote. Did you chastise those SOS for shirking their duties?

Kobach is SOS not Nanny Secretary of State. People have a responsibility to vote and when they don't THEY not the SOS shrik their duty.

Cille King 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Even the courts understand that most of the voter registration restrictions and voter ID requirements do not help with election integrity, rather, they depress the vote. All of the 9 voter fraud cases that the SOS has prosecuted in the last 2 years could have been found and prosecuted without his proof of citizenship or photo ID requirement.

Ken Lassman 2 months, 2 weeks ago

The Secretary of State is a responsible party under the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 and as such is given guidelines "dedicated to ensuring that all citizens have equal access to democracy through voting." The last person to have written a report on this was a previous Secretary of State Rob Thornton and the links to their efforts no longer exist on the Kansas Secretary of State website. The Secretary of State was apparently supposed to form a Kansas Federal Election Reform Advisory Council to assist in helping improve voter participation and education; however I see absolutely no evidence that such an Advisory Council has ever met or even exists under Kobach's watch.

Brock Masters 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Interesting, but is Kobach required to write a report? I quickly went through the act and see a report is only required when payments are received. Have we recently received payments?

So did the SOS in 2006 shirk their duties and were you outraged?

You still didn't provide any evidence that the SOS is required to make registered voters vote or have you backed off on that statement?

Ken Lassman 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I haven't backed off anything, Brock. I said: "he has let our citizens down in getting them to participate in the electoral process of local, state and national elections." Where in that language did I say that he is required to make registered voters vote? Stop putting words in my mouth, Brock.

I quote from the Secretary of State website: "Elections are the cornerstone of democracy, and we are committed to protecting the sanctity of the democratic process." He has run one direction with this: trying to shine a line on the spectre of the illegal voter, and making it much more difficult to register to vote, saying that voter fraud threatens the sanctity of democracy. To this I reply: 8 or 9 illegal votes is by far a lesser threat to the sanctity of democracy than 200,000 eligible but unregistered voters and an additional 592,000 registered but non-voting adults in our state during the last presidential election, and far larger numbers in non-presidential elections. And I daresay that the majority of Kansans, if they were aware of these numbers, would agree.

What I'm saying, Brock, is that such a focus demonstrates a real lack of leadership and a lack of vision. If Kobach were really interested in "the sanctity of the democratic process," he would work much harder to get Kansans to vote, and I see absolutely no inclination that he is interested in doing that.

Michael Kort 2 months, 1 week ago

For $ 86,000 a year from the State Of Kansas to be it's full time SOS, the ideas that he is pitching elsewhere on State of Kansas's time, should be part of state records, as his work product on behalf of the State of Kansas and its' citizens .

How many people do or don't vote has nothing to do with this intellectual property of the State and it's citizens, that we paid him to create .

Yes, registering voters is the responsibility of the SOS in Kansas .

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I think Kobach has been doing a good job, obviously the President thinks so, too.

Michael Kort 2 months, 1 week ago

Then koback should go onto trumps payroll,...... and get off of the States where he gets $86,000 a year to be the full time Kansas SOS .

Trump thinks ?......if he did think he would tweet allot less and stop promising a world full of things that he can not deliver on......like jailing Hillary,.......putting the Chinese in their currency trading place,.....or making Mexico paying for his wall ( that Congress has had the good sense to not fund ).......or how he is going to snap his fingers and leave NATO or NAFTA behind .

i say good luck if you really think that any of that makes good sense !

Cille King 2 months, 2 weeks ago

The SOS continually talks about his SAFE Act not costing the state any money. Did you know that after the debacle of the 2000 election, the Federal government gave the states money to help counties buy new voting equipment. Did you know that the SOS used that money for advertising the SAFE Act requirements, and now there is no money to help counties purchase voting equipment? Did you know that the requirements of the SAFE Act cause county election offices to spend thousands of dollars in mailings and staff, which do not help the security of the elections?

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