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Kobach's shameful misuse of power

Published on -12/13/2013, 10:33 AM

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By LINDA MCCULLOCH

I would like to weigh in on a Kansas issue, even though I am a Montana elected official.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is shamefully working on a new piece of red tape for all Kansas voters to have to deal with. They will now be subject to two different standards for registration -- one for state elections and one for federal elections -- unless they show up with their birth certificate or passport.

Why would a tea party Republican such as Mr. Kobach do such a thing, when the conservative philosophy supposedly favors getting rid of bureaucratic hurdles, not adding them?

The answer, as most people know by now, is that he is trying to rig the vote count so that fewer Democratic votes are cast in state elections. He believes if you set two different sets of registration rules, that he will achieve his desired effect.

Many people, especially poor voters and young voters such as college students, cannot readily access their birth certificates and don't even have a passport (only 5 percent of Americans have passports). And some voters, notably seniors, don't have a driver's license because they haven't driven a car in decades. These voters tend to be more likely Democrats than Republicans. Thus, by creating a hassle for them, that results in their being turned away at the polls, Kris Kobach thinks that he can get more Republicans elected.

While the U.S. Constitution forbids what Kobach is trying to do (which means he can't do it for federal elections), the Kansas state Constitution apparently does not. Thus, Mr. Kobach has created a two-tier system, so he can play out his scheme in state elections.

Many Kansas voters will now show up on election day only to be shocked to learn that they are not eligible to vote for governor, state Legislature and so on.

Mr. Kobach believes if more of these voters are Democrats than Republicans, then he has done his job.

He apparently does not understand that his job as secretary of state is to make things easier for voters, not more difficult. Perhaps that's why his approval rating was an abysmal 34 percent when last I checked.

Mr. Kobach is engaged in a shameful misuse of the legal system. He is trying to engineer election results by creating miserable bureaucratic hurdles for voters. It deprives people of basic rights, it hurts the democratic process, and Mr. Kobach ought stop trying to dictate election outcomes by changing rules.

Linda McCulloch is Montana's first female secretary of state. A Democrat, she is serving her second, four-year term in office.

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