When we last checked in on Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), one of the nation’s most notorious proponents of voter-suppression tactics, he was picking up some new powers from Gov. Sam Brownback (R). Thanks to the state’s far-right governor, Kobach has effectively been deputized in a law-enforcement role, able to prosecute voter-fraud cases at his own discretion.
As if that weren’t quite enough, the Lawrence Journal World reported that Kobach’s voter-rolls purge continues to move forward, too.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is proposing a new regulation that would allow his office to purge more than 30,000 incomplete voter registration applications, most of which are being held in suspense because the voters have not yet provided proof of U.S. citizenship. […]Under the proposed change, voters would have 90 days after they file their applications to register to provide the required citizenship documents – either a birth certificate, U.S. passport, naturalization document or other document allowed under the law. After that, the application would be rejected and the voter would have to submit a new application in order to register.
As things stand, voters have until Election Day to prove their citizenship and complete the voter-registration process – a step unnecessary in 47 states. Kobach wants to narrow the window to 90 days after initiating the registration process.
Remember, all of this is intended to help Kansas combat a problem that does not exist. Kobach spearheaded the campaign for proof-of-citizenship registration, which passed a few years ago, to address a fraud epidemic that remains imaginary.
In practice, an analysis published by the Lawrence Journal World found that the effects of the existing policy “had a disproportionate impact on young voters, and voters who lived in low-income neighborhoods with large African-American populations.” Kobach now intends to make those effects more severe.
ThinkProgress added that the controversial figure’s proposal is facing at least some resistance.
Four state lawmakers, including one Republican, have come out against the proposal, claiming it would disproportionately impact low-income, minority and elderly voters who may need more than 90 days to provide their proof of citizenship. State Rep. Jim Ward (D) told ThinkProgress that not every Kansas citizen has a drivers’ license and other forms of identification can be hard for people to procure in a short period of time. […]A hearing is currently scheduled for early September to discuss Kobach’s proposal. Though four lawmakers on a joint committee have expressed their disapproval, they do not have the power to stop the state agency from implementing the rule.
Just to refresh memories, the Republican Secretary of State also engaged in outrageous antics during last year’s U.S. Senate race in Kansas, which only added to his reputation as a pioneer in voter-suppression tactics.
More recently, Kobach publicly chastised U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom, complaining to the media that the Secretary of State’s office had referred examples of voter fraud to the Kansas-based federal prosecutor, but Grissom has refused to prosecute. Worse, Kobach said the U.S. Attorney didn’t “know what he’s talking about” when Grissom said voter fraud doesn’t exist in Kansas.
Kobach was later proven to have lied shamelessly about the whole thing.
He was nevertheless re-elected. Kobach’s campaign against voters’ access continues apace.