Kris Kobach Relies Heavily On Voter Fraud Scare Tactics For His Kansas Seat Bid

August 02, 2010 2:23 pm ET

Known nationally as a key proponent of anti-illegal immigrant legislation, Kris Kobach has also set his sights on becoming the Kansas Secretary of State.  A large part of his push for the seat rests on his assertion that Kansas elections are rife with fraud.  In truth, instances of voter fraud are rare in Kansas.  That fact and Kobach's moves to enact laws that prevent the elderly and the poor from voting probably won't endear him to Kansans.

Kobach's Campaign Rhetoric Built Around Charge That Kansas Voter Rolls Need To Be "Purged"

Kobach Calls For Voting Rolls To Be "Purged" If He Becomes Secretary Of State. On his 2010 Secretary of State campaign website, Kobach states: "Our voter rolls must be purged of thousands of deceased individuals, illegally-registered aliens, and felons." [KrisKobach.org, accessed 6/23/10]

Kobach Cited Undeliverable Mail As Evidence That Voter Rolls Should Be Purged. According to The Pitch: "Kobach points out that data from early 2008 shows the voter registration cards for nearly 120,000 Kansans were bounded back to the post office. 'Some are deceased, some voters moved and then some are going to be intentionally created fraudulent voters,' Kobach contends." [The Pitch, 5/27/09]

Kobach: "Voter Fraud Is A Very Real Problem In Kansas." According to Kobach's 2010 Secretary of State campaign website: "Voter fraud is a very real problem in Kansas. Election crimes have been documented across the state-from fraudulent registrations, to vote-by-mail fraud." [KrisKobach.org, accessed 6/23/10]

Kobach: Stories Of Voter Fraud In Nursing Homes Are "Legion." According to WichitaLiberty.org: "Another question mentioned nursing homes, where it was alleged by the questioner that voting fraud is taking place. Kobach said that the 'stories are legion' about what happens in nursing homes." [WichitaLiberty.org, 5/25/10]

Kobach: Voter Fraud Is "The Civil Rights Issue Of Our Time." According to the University Daily Kansan, Kobach stated: "I think [voter fraud] is the civil rights issue of our time...We need to take steps to stop it... The laws are not being prosecuted. It is the civil rights violation of our time." [University Daily Kansan, 6/13/10]

Kobach Exaggerates Voter Fraud Problems In Kansas

2009: There Have Been Only 20 Claims Of Voter Fraud In The Last Ten Years.  According to The Pitch: "according to the secretary's election division, there have been 20 claims of voter fraud -- in the past 10 years." [The Pitch, 5/27/09]

Over 5 Million Votes Have Been Cast In Kansas In General And Midterm Elections Since 2000. According to documents on the Kansas Secretary of State website, 5,286,081 votes have been cast in total in Kansas in the five General and Midterm Elections since 2000. [Group of documents at KSSoS.org, accessed 7/6/10]

Former Republican Kansas Secretary Of State Ron Thornburgh: Voter Fraud Is "Very Minimal." According to The Pitch: "Stephanie Meyer, a spokesman for [former] (Republican) Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh, suggests Kobach's proposed reforms might be a big waste of time. Meyer says Kansas voters don't have much reason to worry. 'We think voter fraud is very minimal,' she says. 'In the last two years, there have been a couple of reports -- less than five -- that have been questioned, but it's not widespread at all.'" [The Pitch, 5/27/09, parenthesis original]

  • Thornburgh Was Kansas Secretary Of State For Sixteen Years. According to the NIC website: "Mr. Thornburgh is Senior Vice President of Business Development for NIC and previously served as the Kansas Secretary of State for 16 years." [NIC, accessed 6/24/10]

Current Secretary Of State Chris Biggs: Voter Fraud Is "Not A Major Problem." According to the University Daily Kansan: "'Voter fraud in this state is not a major problem,' [Secretary of State Chris] Biggs said...Biggs says he and Thornburgh before him haven't found widespread fraud, but that's not to say cases aren't investigated. 'When you talk about voter fraud, you have to be careful, because that's a real catchall,' Biggs said. 'We've got a lot of crimes associated with voting, and some of them are more technical in nature and different intents are required.'" [University Daily Kansan, 6/13/10]

  • Chris Biggs Is A Democrat And Has Been Kansas Secretary Of State Since March. According to the Wichita Eagle: "Chris Biggs, the Democratic state securities commissioner, was picked to become secretary of state on Tuesday [March 16]." [Wichita Eagle, 3/17/10]

Kobach's Scare Tactics Around Voter Fraud Allegations...

Kobach Accused Minnesota Secretary Of State And "Unscrupulous Attorneys" Of Stealing Election For Al Franken To "Pacify A Leftist Mob." According to Kobach's 2010 Secretary of State campaign website: "The manipulation of election contests by unscrupulous attorneys has resulted in the stealing of close elections.  The pseudo-election of Al Franken is a case in point.  The Minnesota Secretary of State played a pivotal role in the heist-manipulating the process to pacify a leftist mob." [KrisKobach.org, accessed 6/23/10]

Kobach: "There Is A Significant Possibility That A Vote On 'Obamacare' Was Passed By A Stolen Seat." According to the Eudora News, at a Johnson County Young Republicans forum in Shawnee, Kobach stated: "There is a significant possibility that a vote on 'Obamacare' was passed by a stolen seat." [Eudora News6/17/10]

Kobach: County Prosecutors Choose Not To Act On Credible Fraud Complaints. According to the University Daily Kansan: "...once a fraud complaint is made to the secretary of state and found to be credible, the case is sent back to the county prosecutor where the alleged activity occurred. Imagine you're a county prosecutor with a murder, a handful of rapes and a bunch of assaults to contend with, Kobach hypothesizes. 'More often than not they don't prosecute,' he says of voter fraud cases." [University Daily Kansan6/13/10]

Kobach: "The Rise Of ACORN" Has Aggravated The Problem Of Voter Fraud. According to The Pitch: "'The rise of ACORN nationally accelerates the problem, aggravates the problem even more,' Kobach says of voter fraud." [The Pitch5/27/09]

Kobach's Number One Reason For Running Is To Combat ACORN. According to the Salina Journal: "Kris Kobach's desire to be Kansas Secretary of State can be summed up in one word: 'ACORN,' he told a modest audience that gathered Thursday for lunch at Salina's Western Sizzlin restaurant." [Salina Journal5/29/09]

Kobach: "ACORN Is A Criminal Enterprise." According to the Salina Journal, Kobach stated: "ACORN is a criminal enterprise." [Salina Journal5/29/09]

Kobach: ACORN Has Been "Busy" In Kansas. According to the Salina Journal, Kobach "said it was only after the November election that he learned ACORN has three offices in Kansas. 'We didn't find out until after the election how busy they have been in Kansas,' he said." [Salina Journal5/29/09]

Kobach Cited The Conviction Of 12 ACORN Workers In Missouri For "Violating Voter Laws." According to the Salina Journal, Kobach "said 12 ACORN workers in Missouri were convicted of violating voter laws in connection with 2006 elections." [Salina Journal5/29/09]

  • No Reports Of Fraudulent Registrations Actually Being Used To Vote In Missouri. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, in Missouri, "the wrongdoers were an isolated few registration workers, and despite the skepticism of some that registration fraud occurs only to let ineligible people vote fraudulently, there are no reports of which we are aware that any votes were cast using any fraudulent registration connected to the drive." [Brennan Center for Justice, accessed 7/7/10]
  • ACORN Workers Charged With Voter Registration Fraud In Missouri Were Fired, Turned In By ACORN. According to KMBC.com: "ACORN officials in Kansas City said they turned in the four people who were indicted. 'We're very happy that they were indicted,' said Claudie Harris with ACORN. Harris said ACORN workers are paid by the hour and not by the number of voter registration cards they turn in. 'When you fraudulently defraud this, that gives us a bad name and what we're trying to do a bad name,' Harris said. ACORN officials said the four indicted have been fired." [KMBC.com, 11/1/06]

...Might Be Learned Behavior

Kobach Was A White House Fellow And Adviser To John Ashcroft On Immigration Law And Border Security. According to the biography page of his 2010 Secretary of State campaign website: "In 2001, Professor Kobach was awarded a White House Fellowship, which took him to Washington, DC, to work for the Bush Administration in the personal office of Attorney General John Ashcroft.  Professor Kobach served as the Attorney General's chief advisor on immigration law and border security." [KrisKobach.org, accessed 6/23/10

Kobach Mentor John Ashcroft Made Voter Fraud A High Priority Of His Term At The Justice Department. According to the New York Times: "The call to arms reverberated in the Justice Department, where John Ashcroft, a former Missouri senator, was just starting as attorney general. Combating voter fraud, Mr. Ashcroft announced, would be high on his agenda. But in taking up the fight, he promised that he would also be vigilant in attacking discriminatory practices that made it harder for minorities to vote. 'American voters should neither be disenfranchised nor defrauded,' he said at a news conference in March 2001." [New York Times, 4/12/07]

Bush Administration "Made Election Fraud And Corruption Offenses A Top Priority," Launched Major Initiative In 2002. According to a paper released by Project Vote: "At the national level, a major new project at the U.S. Department of Justice, the Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative (BAVII) has resulted in only a handful of convictions. According to the Attorney General [Alberto Gonzales], since the inception of the program in 2002, 'we've made enforcement of election fraud and corruption offenses a top priority.'" [Project Vote, accessed 7/2/10, parenthesis original]

Five-Year Effort By Bush Administration Did Not Find Widespread Incidences Of Voter Fraud. According to the New York Times: "Although Republican activists have repeatedly said fraud is so widespread that it has corrupted the political process and, possibly, cost the party election victories, about 120 people have been charged and 86 convicted as of last year...A handful of convictions involved people who voted twice. More than 30 were linked to small vote-buying schemes in which candidates generally in sheriff's or judge's races paid voters for their support." [New York Times, 4/12/07]

  • Most Voter Fraud Cases Dealt With Unintended Mistakes And Errors. According to the New York Times: "Many of those charged by the Justice Department appear to have mistakenly filled out registration forms or misunderstood eligibility rules, a review of court records and interviews with prosecutors and defense lawyers show. In Miami, an assistant United States attorney said many cases there involved what were apparently mistakes by immigrants, not fraud. In Wisconsin, where prosecutors have lost almost twice as many cases as they won, charges were brought against voters who filled out more than one registration form and felons seemingly unaware that they were barred from voting." [New York Times, 4/12/07]

An Individual Is As Likely To Commit Voter Fraud As He Is To Be Hit By Lightning. According to the Brennan Center for Justice: "evidence from the microscopically scrutinized 2004 gubernatorial election in Washington State actually reveals just the opposite: though voter fraud does happen, it happens approximately 0.0009% of the time. The similarly closely-analyzed 2004 election in Ohio revealed a voter fraud rate of 0.00004%. National Weather Service data shows that Americans are struck and killed by lightning about as often." [Brennan Center for Justice, accessed 7/7/10]

Brennan Center For Justice: Voter Fraud Is So Rare Because Its Risks Are Much Greater Than Its Rewards. According to the Brennan Center for Justice: "voter fraud is extraordinarily rare. In part, this is because fraud by individual voters is a singularly foolish and ineffective way to attempt to win an election. Each act of voter fraud in connection with a federal election risks five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, in addition to any state penalties. In return, it yields at most one incremental vote. That single extra vote is simply not worth the price." [Brennan Center for Justice, accessed 7/7/10]

Kobach Supports Voter ID Law In Kansas That Could Discourage Turnout, Especially Among Minority Voters

Kobach Supports Voter Identification Law In Kansas. According to Kobach's 2010 Secretary of State campaign website: "We must enact a statute requiring photo ID to vote." [KrisKobach.org, accessed 6/23/10]

Kobach Would Defend Voter ID Law In Court If Allowed By Kansas Attorney General. According to the Kansas City Star: "Kobach also said he would..., if allowed by the state attorney general, defend a state voter ID law against legal challenges. Kansas has no such law currently, but Kobach said he had a bill drafted and ready for legislative consideration." [Kansas City Star, 6/8/10]

2008: Four Percent Of Voters Lacked The Necessary ID In States With The Strictest Voter ID Laws. According to the New York Times: "Opponents of the law point to the three states - Georgia, Michigan and Missouri - where state officials have recently conducted the most systematic studies on the topic. Those states found that at least 4 percent of registered voters lacked the type of ID needed under the strictest voter identification laws. A 2007 study by political scientists at the University of Washington found that about 13 percent of registered voters in Indiana lacked the required identification." [New York Times, 1/7/08]

U.S. Election Assistance Commission Report Finds That Voter ID Laws Discourage Turnout, Especially Among Minorities. According to NPR, a 2007 survey "by researchers working for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission [is] certain to fuel [the voter ID law] debate. Tim Vercellotti of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University is one of the authors of the study. He says it showed a clear connection between ID requirements and voter turnout." Vercellotti stated: "In this way, as the requirements for identification became more stringent, the probability of voting declined...The largest declines occurred among African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians." Vercellotti "says the drop was almost three percent in states with the most stringent ID requirements. And...African-Americans in states that require some form of non-photo ID were almost six percent less likely to say they voted than those living in states where voters only have to give their names. For Hispanic voters, the decline in turnout was 10 percent." [NPR, 4/30/07]

Kobach Expects Nursing Homes To Deal With The Problem Of Elderly Voters Without ID. According to the Lawrence Journal-World: "Kobach did address possible negative issues of a photo ID law, such as elderly voters obtaining an ID. 'Nursing homes have vans that can take residents to vote,' he said. 'They could take them out twice to get an identification card and to vote. Another option is to bring the polls to them.' Driver's license numbers or voters' signatures could be used to verify absentee ballots, Kobach said." [Lawrence Journal-World, 6/17/10]

2008: A Voter ID Law Was Passed By Kansas Legislature But Was Subsequently Vetoed By Governor Sebelius. According to The Canvass: "In May 2008, the Kansas legislature passed House Bill 2019 to require photo identification...On May 18, the Kansas governor [Kathleen Sebelius] vetoed the legislation." [The Canvass, accessed 7/7/10]

  • The Law Would Have Exempted The Elderly And Allowed The Poor To Get Free ID. According to The Canvass:

The Kansas photo ID language would have exempted persons in the following categories unless they were first time voters.

  • age 65 or older;
  • persons with disabilities;
  • members of the military and their spouses while on active duty; and,
  • voters living outside the United States.

It would also have allowed for the issuance of a free photo identification card to anyone who qualified under specified poverty criteria and signed a corresponding affidavit. The legislation trimmed the list of acceptable identification forms for first-time voters applying for an absentee ('advance') ballot by mail -- deleting utility bills, bank statements, paychecks and government checks from the approved list. [The Canvass, accessed 7/7/10, parenthesis original]

Kansas Secretary Of State: "No Known Kansas Cases Of Voter Fraud Would Have Been Prevented By Photo ID." According to The Canvass: "Representative Suzanne Storm opposed HB 2019 and acknowledged that there was a report of residents from an adjoining state trying to vote illegally in Kansas.  However, she countered that, 'Kansas voter rolls are regularly maintained and updated by election officials,' daily in her county -- removing the need for a photo ID law.  She added that the Kansas Secretary of State's office said in committee that no known Kansas cases of voter fraud would have been prevented by photo ID." [The Canvass, accessed 7/7/10, emphasis added]

Kobach Wants To Give Secretary Of State Power To Prosecute Voter Fraud Allegations

Kobach Wants To Have Attorney From Secretary Of State Office Help Prosecute Voter Fraud Cases. According to The Pitch, Kobach stated: "I'd like to see the secretary of state devote its resources to investigating voter fraud cases; have an attorney in the secretary of state's office prepare the cases for prosecution." [The Pitch, 5/27/09]

Kobach Would Go From "Ministerial Model" to "Law Enforcement Model" As Secretary Of State. According to the Wichita Eagle, Kobach stated: "I would go from a ministerial model, which we have right now, to more of a law enforcement model because there is a need to enforce our laws against election fraud." [Wichita Eagle, 6/9/10]

University Daily Kansan: Kobach "Says He Will Be Aggressive In Prosecuting Cases Of Voter Fraud." According to the University Daily Kansan: "Kobach says he will be aggressive in prosecuting cases of voter fraud, doing the investigative work and taking them to the attorney general for charges to be filed." [University Daily Kansan, 6/13/10]

Kobach: "I Will...Restructure The Prosecution Of Voter Fraud, So That Prosecutions Actually Occur." In an editorial in the Wichita Eagle, Kobach stated: "I will also restructure the prosecution of voter fraud, so that prosecutions actually occur." [Wichita Eagle, 7/1/10]

Kobach Proposes "Parallel Jurisdiction" Of Secretary Of State And County Attorneys Over Voter Fraud Prosecution. According to WichitaLiberty.org, Kobach "proposes parallel jurisdiction, where either the local county attorney or the Secretary of State could proceed with [voter fraud] prosecution." [WichitaLiberty.org, 5/25/10]

Kansas Attorney General: Decisions To Prosecute Are Made By County And District Attorneys Only. According to the Kansas Attorney General Frequent Questions webpage: "County and district attorneys have discretion in making decisions whether they will prosecute. Those decisions are based on a number of factors including the nature of the allegation, the parties involved, the time and resources required to prosecute and whether the evidence is sufficient to convince a judge/jury that the person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." [Kansas Attorney General, accessed 7/2/10]

The Attorney General Does Not Intervene In Local Prosecutions Because "County And District Attorneys Are Elected." According to the Kansas Attorney General Frequent Questions webpage: "As county and district attorneys are elected, the Attorney General does not oversee county and district attorneys and, therefore, cannot require a local prosecutor to file charges. [The Kansas Attorney General] generally do[es] not intervene in local matters unless the county/district attorney requests our assistance." [Kansas Attorney General, accessed 7/2/10]

Kobach Admitted That Voter Fraud Cases Are The Responsibility Of "The County Prosecutor Where The Alleged Activity Occurred." According to the University Daily Kansan: "Kobach says combating election fraud should be a higher priority. Fraud complaints, he says, are under-reported, and even when there's solid documentation, there's rarely any legal repercussion. That's because, once a fraud complaint is made to the secretary of state and found to be credible, the case is sent back to the county prosecutor where the alleged activity occurred..." [University Daily Kansan, 6/13/10, emphasis added]

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