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“A Voter-Fraud Witch Hunt In Kansas”: Voters Could Be Charged With A Felony For Mistakenly Showing Up At The Wrong Polling Place

In fall 2010, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach held a press conference alleging that dead people were voting in the state. He singled out Alfred K. Brewer as a possible zombie voter. There was only one problem: Brewer was very much alive. The Wichita Eagle found the 78-year-old working in his front yard. “I don’t think this is heaven, not when I’m raking leaves,” Brewer said.

Since his election in 2010, Kobach has been the leading crusader behind the myth of voter fraud, making headline-grabbing claims about the prevalence of such fraud with little evidence to back it up. Now he’s about to become a lot more powerful.

On Monday, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a bill giving Kobach’s office the power to prosecute voter-fraud cases if county prosecutors decline to do so and upgrading such charges from misdemeanors to felonies. Voters could be charged with a felony for mistakenly showing up at the wrong polling place. No other secretary of state in the country has such sweeping prosecutorial power, says Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.

“It means a person and an office with no experience or background in criminal prosecutions is now going to be making a determination of whether there’s probable cause to bring a criminal case against an individual who may have just made a paperwork mistake,” Ho says. “There is a reason why career prosecutors typically handle these cases. They know what they’re doing.”

Kobach claims there are 100 cases of “double voting” from the 2014 election that he wants to prosecute, but there’s been scant evidence of such fraud in Kansas in past elections. From 1997 to 2010, according to The Wichita Eagle, there were only 11 confirmed cases of voter fraud in the state.

Such fraud has been just as rare nationally, even according to Kobach’s own data, noted The Washington Post:

Kansas’ secretary of state examined 84 million votes cast in 22 states to look for duplicate registrants. In the end 14 cases were referred for prosecution, representing 0.00000017 percent of the votes cast.

Kobach says he needs this extraordinary prosecutorial power because county and federal attorneys are not bringing enough voter-fraud cases. But Kansas US Attorney Barry Grissom said last year that Kobach’s office had not referred any cases of voter fraud to his office. “We have received no voter fraud cases from your office in over four and a half years,” Grissom wrote to Kobach.

Kobach has been a leading proponent of his state’s strict voter-ID law, which decreased turnout by 2 percent in 2012, according to the Government Accountability Office, with the state falling from 28th to 36th in voter turnout following its implementation.

He’s also been the driving force behind Kansas’s 2011 proof-of-citizenship law for voter registration, which requires voters to show a birth certificate or passport to participate in the political process. Twenty-five thousand voters had their registrations “suspended” in the 2014 election because of the law; even the right-wing group True the Vote claimed that only 1 percent of the list were verified non-citizens.

Those wrongly on the list included Da Anna Allen, an Air Force vet. She told The Wichita Eagle:

“It just caught me off guard that I was not registered. I served for a week on a jury trial, which basically told me I was a registered voter. I’m a disabled veteran, so it’s particularly frustrating. Why should I have to prove my citizenship when I served in the military?”

After the Supreme Court found that Arizona’s proof-of-citizenship law violated the National Voter Registration Act, Kansas and Arizona instituted a two-tiered voting system, arguing that those who registered through the federal NVRA form could not vote in state or local elections. That system has it roots in the Jim Crow South.

Kobach, who wrote Arizona’s “papers, please” anti-illegal immigration law, alleges “in Kansas, the illegal registration of alien voters has become pervasive.” That defies common sense, as Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe pointed out. “Why would an illegal alien want to go to vote and draw attention to himself?” Howe asked.

Kobach has asked the Supreme Court to restore the proof-of-citizenship law. The Court will decide on June 25 whether to take the case. If Kobach succeeds, proof-of-citizenship laws will spread to more states, and Kobach’s voter-fraud crusade will become even more influential.

 

By: Ari Berman, The Nation, June 11, 2015

June 15, 2015 Posted by | Kris Kobach, Sam Brownback, Voter Suppression | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“This Man Is Truly From The Dark Side”: Kansas Must Send Kris Kobach To Political Oblivion

If Sam Brownback wins re-election as Kansas governor, the world will not end.

If Pat Roberts wins re-election to the U.S. Senate, for sure the world will not end.

If independent candidate Greg Orman upsets Roberts for the U.S. Senate, again the world will not end.

If Kris Kobach wins re-election as Kansas secretary of state…well, that’s another story.

Kobach would fill the secretary of state’s seat for four more years, where he will continue to ignore his duties and spend his time in courts fighting one thing after another. But that’s only the beginning of the havoc he would to wreak.

Kobach, who is only 48, would then find himself in the catbird’s seat to run for governor in four years or to seek in six years the U.S. Senate seat that either Roberts or Orman would hold.

Kobach has to be nailed by the electorate in such a way that he goes away. Long, long away into political oblivion.

Of all the politicians I have covered in more than four decades, starting with a campaign trip with Richard Nixon in 1968, I have never run across a meaner, nastier, more egomaniacal politician than Kris Kobach.

Kobach is also the most brilliant and clever politician I have ever covered. The man is dripping with Ivy League degrees.

The combination of his traits is lethal, which makes him so dangerous.

I have known Kobach since he was first elected to the Overland Park City Council in 1999, when on his questionnaire he stated he was in favor of abortions. Four years later, when he ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Congress, he switched to a pro-life position.

Kobach knows how to play the public like a fiddle, although there is hope that Kansans have finally figured out that they have been played for saps.

He stokes anti-immigration fears by championing the most vicious laws and then travels from state to state, spewing his hate through the laws he writes — for huge fees. It is one thing to fret over undocumented immigrants, but Kobach seeks with his obsessive plots to make their lives as miserable as possible, while he personally gains.

But because he presents himself as waging a heroic battle, too many Kansans have, at least until now, met his grandstanding with oohs and aahs.

The handsome, charismatic candidate in 2010, running for secretary of state, told Kansans he was going to stamp out voter fraud. More oohs and aahs. Who wouldn’t be for that?

But there had been, on average, only a dozen cases of voter fraud each year between 1997 and 2010, despite Kobach’s best efforts to dredge up more. He was scamming the electorate, plain and simple.

That did not stop Kobach from ramrodding through legislation that has disqualified almost 20,000 would-be voters because the state now requires them to come up with identification papers such as passports or birth certificates. The secretary of state, who is supposed to encourage voter turnout has, instead, crushed it. Between 2008 and 2012, voter turnout in Kansas declined more than other comparable states. A federal report finds this was likely due to Kobach’s voter registration laws.

Because of a quirk in the court rulings on Kobach’s scheme, it has left Kansas with a two-tiered voting system. New voters who have not presented their passports or birth certificates can only vote for federal candidates but cannot vote for state officials

Kobach’s swan song, I hope, was his creepy efforts to keep Democrat Chad Taylor on the ballot for U.S. senator, thereby splitting the vote with independent Orman, which, in turn, undoubtedly would have elected Roberts through the back door. Fortunately, the Kansas Supreme Court stomped on his shenanigans in a unanimous vote. Both Republicans and Democrats on the bench rejected Kobach’s attempt to mastermind the outcome of the vote.

After the courts ruled against him, Kobach attempted to intervene in a subsequent lawsuit that would have forced Democrats to put someone else on the ballot. The courts said Kobach could not intervene, and then ruled against the Kobach position.

Kansans, this man is truly from the dark side.

Kris Kobach must be stopped now, before we find him in an even more powerful position to ply his diabolical schemes.

 

By: Steve Rose, Columnist, The Kansas City Star; The National Memo, October 14, 2014

October 15, 2014 Posted by | Kansas, Kris Kobach | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Here’s To Kobach’s Defeat And Banishment”: America’s Worst Republican Could Soon Lose His Office

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Democrat Chad Taylor could vacate his ballot spot in the Senate election, creating a two-man race between Republican Senator Pat Roberts and ex-Democrat-turned-Independent Greg Orman. That’s a victory for Kansas Democrats who believed that Orman has a much better chance of unseating Roberts than Taylor did, and it’s a setback for Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who tried to block Taylor from removing his name.

Kobach is running for re-election against Republican-turned-Democrat Jean Schodorf. Ordinarily, a race like this would be irrelevant in national politics, but Kobach is a crusader against illegal immigrantsand, by extension, most immigrants not of European extractionand has used a minor state office to rewrite Kansas’s voting laws. He has long been associated with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), an organization founded by a proponent of eugenics and population control and funded in part by the Pioneer Fund, an organization founded to promote “race betterment.” He is also quite effective, and even brilliant, at what he does.

Kobach, who is now 48, grew up in Topeka. He went to Harvard, where he studied under Samuel Huntington, who at the end of a long and glorious career, had become obsessed himself with the threat that immigrants from the south posed to American civilization. Kobach wrote a prize-winning senior thesis on the efforts during the apartheid era of South African business to evade the effects of sanctions. He got a law degree from Yale and returned to Kansas where he practiced law in Kansas City and taught law at the University of Missouri in Kansas City.

In 2001, he joined the Bush administration, first as a White House fellow and then as an aide to Attorney General John Ashcroft, where he helped devise the national security visa system that required Muslims and Middle Easterners  to register and be finger-printed. (It was suspended in 2011 because it had proved both ineffective and discriminatory.) In 2003, he returned to Kansas City, where he ran for Congress against Democratic incumbent Dennis Moore. He called for keeping out illegal immigrants and making English America’s official language. He lost, but six years later ran for secretary of state on a platform of preventing immigrant voter fraud.

In the meantime, Kobach had become the senior counsel for FAIR’s legal arm, the Immigration Reform Law Institute. He remains today their senior counsel. With FAIR, Kobach helped write Arizona’s highly discriminatory immigration law, which required police to demand proof of citizenship from anyone they suspected of being in the country illegally and advised other states, including Alabama, that have passed similar legislation. He also filed suit to prevent Kansas, Nebraska, and California from offering in-state college tuition to the children of undocumented immigrants, and he has defended laws in Nebraska, Texas, and Pennsylvania that would make it illegal to rent to undocumented immigrants.

In his 2010 campaign for secretary of state, he promised to stamp out voter fraud. (Kobach has been able to come up with one casefrom 1997that involved fraud by an undocumented immigrant.) After Kobach was elected, he got the Kansas legislature to pass and Governor Sam Brownback to sign a law that allowed him to rewrite the state’s election registration laws. Kobach adopted rules requiring all new registrants to show documented proof of citizenship to obtain Kansas registration. At the polls, all registered voters had to show photo identification.

In the run-up to this year’s election, Kobach was able to disqualify almost 20,000 new registrants because they hadn’t proven their citizenship. These had to include many people (including a 92-year-old woman who appealed her denial) who for one reason or another didn’t have passports or birth certificates on hand. Kobach’s ruling created a weird two-tier system, where Kansans who had national voter registration, which only requires a registrant to swear that he or she is a citizen, could vote in congressional or senate selections, but unless they had a Kansas voter registration, which requires proof of citizenship, could not vote in a state or local race.

There are, of course, anti-immigration nuts who don’t care about any other issues or about politics in general, but Kobach is also an avid partisan who was chairman of the Kansas Republican Party. His rulings on voter registration appear equally designed to help Republicans and to eliminate an alien presence in American life. His attempt to keep Taylor on the ballotand his subsequent threat to force the Democrats to replace him on the ballotreflects a diehard partisanship that shows little concern for legal niceties. In 2012, he even justified an attempt to keep Obama off the Kansas ballot on the grounds he had not proved his citizenship. And he is also a hardline rightwinger on the welfare state (he wants to remove Kansas entirely from the purview of the Affordable Care Act) and on guns, championing a law that has made guns produced in Kansas not subject to federal regulation. (He is a shareholder in a new Kansas gun firm aptly called Minuteman Defense.)

Kobach is running again on his attempt to stamp out voter fraud, and enjoys the enthusiastic support of anti-Obama stalwart Ted Nugent. “The Leftists and commies are working overtime to defeat him in this year’s election,” Nugent warned. Kobach’s opponent, Schodorf, is a former Republican state senator who was ousted in the 2010 primary by a more conservative challenger backed by Brownback and the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity and Kansas Chamber of Commerce. She switched parties to run against Kobach.  Schodorf has never run statewide before, and faces a two-to-one Republican edge in registration in a race that voters don’t normally pay attention to, but she has been running even in the polls and could benefit from the snafu over keeping Taylor on the ballot.

If Schodorf does win, it will be a victory for American democracy and not simply the Democratic Party. Kobach is that bad. To be sure, there has always been a case to be made for better controlling American borders and for discouraging entry by undocumented workers, but Kobach’s position, like that of FAIR, edges into the dark corners of nativism. And his attempt to manipulate state election laws is quite simply an attempt to subvert the democratic process. Here’s to his defeat and banishment from elected office.

 

By: John B. Judis, The New Republic, September 19, 2014

September 20, 2014 Posted by | Kansas, Kris Kobach | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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