Kris Kobach, the rising star Republican secretary of state in Kansas, is trying to move beyond his status as the GOP’s chief anti-immigration advocate by taking up the issue of voter fraud. He wrote an op-ed on a radio station website making a ridiculously bad case for the existence of serious voter fraud.
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.
Uh, yeah. That was in 1855, for crying out loud. It has absolutely nothing to do with elections today.
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.
But as Right Wing Watch points out, that number is actually much higher than actual cases of voter fraud.
In fact, that collection of 221 cases of alleged voter fraud took place over a period of thirteen years, averaging 17 cases a year. When the Wichita Eagle looked into the cases Kobach had listed, they found that many did not amount to voter fraud at all. In one case, Kobach claimed that a dead man had voted; the man, very much alive, disputed that fact. The paper found that other cases Kobach counted were “honest mistakes” with no intent to defraud.
Ultimately, only seven of the 211 cases resulted in convictions.
7 cases. In 13 years. There were more than 1.1 million votes cast in that state in last year’s election. Wow, what a huge problem, certainly worth disenfranchising 17,000 voters with their new voter suppression law.