Published on -12/2/2012, 10:34 AM
When Kris Kobach was campaigning for Kansas Secretary of State two years ago, his top priority was combatting voter fraud. Despite the lack of statistical evidence to support his position, Kansans voted for him in overwhelming fashion. Armed with the lopsided victory, Kobach went about "fixing" the problem.
The problem, as has been well-reported, was that 75 cases of voter fraud had been reported between 1998 and 2008. Zero convictions were obtained, but Kobach believed that was because the cases were not pursued vigorously enough. He also believed the 75 were just the tip of the iceberg.
The state's top elections official likened the Sunflower State to Georgia, as both have significant meatpacking operations and as such both have sizable populations of aliens. And, since Georgia had "identified 2,148 individuals who had attempted to register to vote and who were likely aliens," Kansas likely had the same problem.
Kobach has been fixated on illegal immigrants most of his career. In a letter written to this newspaper in 2010, Kobach noted: "Every time an alien casts a vote in an election, he cancels out the legitimate vote of a U.S. citizen. How many cases is enough to demand action? I'd say that even one alien voting is too many."
As more than a couple of area readers affirmed via their own letters, Kobach was on the right path. State lawmakers felt the same way, and approved the secretary of state's stringent voter ID law. This year's elections were the first for Kansans to show official picture identification at the polls before being allowed to vote.
With results from the general election certified this past week, it strikes us as a good time to assess the effects -- for better or worse.
Zero reports of voter fraud were documented, although Kobach said it might be a few more weeks before problems such as individuals voting in two states would surface. The zero number does not surprise us, as the 75 cases reported during that 10-year period amounts to 0.0009 percent of some 8 million votes cast.
There were 838 voters forced to cast provisional ballots in the Nov. 6 election because they did not have proper photo ID. Of those, Kobach said 306 returned later with their IDs and their ballots were counted. So that means 532 registered Kansas voters were ignored, a number Kobach is just fine with.
"I think the photo ID requirements are going very smoothly, in fact smother than I expected," Kobach said.
For an official supposedly concerned with not disenfranchising even one citizen of Kansas, we're stunned Kobach doesn't mind that 532 Kansas citizens didn't have their votes counted.
Not that they would have made a difference this year. Most contests statewide were lopsided affairs.
That shouldn't be the point. Because of Kobach's irrational approach to his constitutional duties, 532 Kansans were denied their most fundamental right as citizens in order to prevent zero aliens from casting an illegal ballot.
Secretary Kobach's paranoia is not resulting in more legitimate elections. Instead, he's making a mockery of the office. Voter fraud is not taking place at the polls, it's taking place in Topeka.
Editorial by Patrick Lowry