Kris Kobach: Setting The Record Straight
KSAL Staff - October 22, 2013 3:33 pm
Secretary of State Kris Kobach on Wednesday described the bill as being "gutted."
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach:
The integrity of elections has been a crucial concern of Kansans since the birth of our state. More than any other state, Kansas was born in an atmosphere of rampant voter fraud. Our first territorial legislative election saw 4,908 fraudulent votes cast (mostly by Missourians). In the ensuing years, many Kansans put themselves at great risk in order to safeguard the integrity of elections.
Recognizing the need to protect the fairness of elections, the Kansas (Wyandotte) Constitution, adopted in 1859, provided that every Kansas voter must be a United States citizen to cast a legal ballot. The Kansas Constitution also states that the Kansas legislature shall provide for “proper proofs,” or evidence, of the right to vote. It was that authority that the Kansas Legislature exercised during the 2011 legislative session, when it enacted the Secure and Fair Elections (SAFE) Act, which I drafted.
This law, supported by nearly every Republican and by more than two-thirds of Democrats in the Legislature, requires photo ID at the polls and proof of citizenship for newly-registered voters. Simply stated, the SAFE ACT provides for the very “proofs” that our state’s founders contemplated in 1859.
However, the editorial board recently criticized this law and my work to enforce it. In doing so, the editorial board made two false statements.
First, the editorial board claimed that “when Kobach originally proposed the state’s voter ID law,” “[t]here were only a handful of voter fraud cases.” That is false. The number of cases of voter fraud presented to the Legislature in 2011 was 221. That’s many more than a handful – and those are only the cases that we know about. The actual number is likely much higher.
The forms of voter fraud included everything from voting in the same election in two different states, to fraudulently requesting another person’s mail-in ballot, to impersonating another voter at the polls, to fraudulently voting an elderly person’s ballot at a nursing home and forging the person’s signature. These are serious criminal acts that threaten the integrity of our elections.
It only takes a few fraudulent votes to steal an election when election results are close. And close elections are commonplace in Kansas. For example, in 2012, in the Democrat primary for the 65th state legislative district, which includes Junction City, the election resulted in a dead tie. State law required that the election be settled by a coin toss.
Second, the editorial board claimed I am “mandat[ing]” a two-tiered election system in which some voters would be qualified to vote only for federal offices. That claim too is flat out wrong.
In fact I am doing the opposite. Under my leadership, Kansas and Arizona have joined forces to sue the federal government’s Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to change the federal mail voter registration form so that proof of citizenship can be requested from those Kansans who use the form, as Kansas law requires. We are suing in order to avoid the two-categories-of-voters-plan that the editorial board criticizes.
The suit is necessary because, this past summer, the United States Supreme Court in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council said that states must “accept and use” the federal mail voter registration form to register voters for federal elections. As it is currently written, the federal form for Kansas doesn’t require proof of citizenship. (The state form, which more than 99% of voters use, does require proof of citizenship.)
The way to avoid having two categories of voters is for Kansas and Arizona to bring such a lawsuit and win. The good news is that the Supreme Court specifically suggested this lawsuit in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council. So there is a very high probability that we will win.
In the election of 2010, I promised the voters of Kansas that I would draft, implement, and enforce a photo-ID and proof-of-citizenship law. Fully 84% of Kansans agree that that is the right way to protect our elections. Now the editorial board is disappointed that I am making good on my promise to the people of Kansas.
Kansans need not worry. I will stand firm in protecting the integrity of elections—regardless of what the editorial board says.