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Kobach defends photo ID to vote; wants power to prosecute alleged voter fraud

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Thursday there were no problems during the Nov. 6 general election with the photo ID requirement to vote, and he said he would push next year for the Legislature to give his office the authority to prosecute allegations of voter fraud.

The State Board of Canvassers on Thursday certified the Nov. 6 general election results. From left to right are Gov. Sam Brownback's general counsel Caleb Stegall, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt.

The State Board of Canvassers on Thursday certified the Nov. 6 general election results. From left to right are Gov. Sam Brownback's general counsel Caleb Stegall, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt. by Scott Rothschild

"I think it makes sense that if we as a state take voter fraud seriously when it does occur that we prosecute the cases," Kobach said after a meeting of the State Board of Canvassers, which officially certified the results of the election.

Kobach pushed the photo ID law, saying it was needed to combat election fraud, but he acknowledged that there have no reports of voter fraud in Kansas this year.

The authority to prosecute voter fraud currently rests with county attorneys, but Kobach said those offices don't get around to investigating and prosecuting those cases because they are over-worked and under-staffed.

He said there have been 235 cases of alleged voter fraud in Kansas between 1997 and 2010 and not one has been prosecuted.

Kobach has tried to get authority to prosecute alleged voter fraud cases before, but the state Senate balked. Now that conservative Republicans will takeover leadership of the Senate next year, Kobach said he believes he can get such a bill approved.

On photo ID, the recently concluded election was the first general election in Kansas with the requirement.

Out of 1,182,771 votes cast, 838 provisional ballots were issued due to lack of sufficient photo ID, Kobach said. Of those, 306 voters presented ID before the county canvass to make their votes count. That means 532 provisional ballots were not counted.

But Kobach said he was confident nearly all those voters had photo ID. He said he bases that on checking on those who cast provisional ballots after the August primary against driver's license records.

In the Nov. 6 election, 66.8 percent of Kansas' nearly 1.8 million registered voters cast ballots. Republican Mitt Romney defeated President Barack Obama in Kansas by 59.7 percent to 37.9 percent with the remaining votes going to minor party candidates.

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