Just say 'no' to Kris Kobach, the secretary of distractions

Another legislative session coming up, another attempted overreach by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

The conservative Republican has said he will again ask the Legislature to give his office the power to search out and prosecute suspected cases of voter fraud. Let’s hope lawmakers turn him down, as they did the last time he asked.

Prosecuting voter fraud is currently the job of county prosecutors. Kobach says those offices are overworked, and voter fraud isn’t a high priority with them.

That may be because there is so little evidence that it actually takes place. In Kansas, as elsewhere, documented cases of voter fraud are few and far between.

Kobach has reported no suspected cases of fraud from the November election. However, 838 voters had to cast provisional ballots because they couldn’t produce the identification required by Kansas’ new voter ID law.

As a lawyer who helps states and cities crack down on illegal immigration, Kobach advocates enabling or even requiring police to check on the status of people who might be in the United States illegally. That sort of seek-and-prosecute approach, applied to voting, could have a chilling effect.

Legislators should be very careful about further empowering a politician who is willing to tread close to a constitutional line in order to make a name for himself.

Also, it’s not as though Kobach needs more to do. Some Kansans already are complaining that his immigration work distracts him from his secretary of state duties.

Multiple problems with counting and reporting vote totals were experienced in Sedgwick County on election night. If Kobach is looking for a new project, he should focus on making elections around the state more accessible and function more smoothly.


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