Kris Kobach

Kris Kobach Claims Voter Fraud Is Real Because Widows Vote For Their Late Husbands 'All The Time'

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach – the mastermind behind anti-immigrant and voter suppression legislation throughout the country – joined radio host Joyce Kaufman yesterday at an event hosted by the anti-immigrant group FAIR, where he currently holds a top legal position.

Kobach has been on a media blitz recently defending Kansas’ strict voter ID law, which requires people registering to vote to present a birth certificate or other proof of citizenship, a requirement that has left tens of thousands of Kansans with incomplete registrations .

Kaufman, who is based in Florida, told Kobach, “I can’t imagine how many widows are voting for their dead husbands.”

“Yeah, it happens all the time,” Kobach replied, going on to explain that people who die or move out of state often stay on a state’s voter rolls.

Kobach’s conflation of out-of-date voter rolls with fraudulent voting is common among advocates of voter suppression laws. While fraudulent voting is extraordinarily rareincluding in Kansas – Kobach has used the threat of such fraud to push faulty voter roll purges in states across the country.

Kobach went on to claim that those who cite the disproportionate effect of voter ID laws on people of color are in fact themselves making a “racist argument.” “You’re telling me that because of a person’s skin color, he’s less able to find his birth certificate?” he asked. “That’s just crazy to make that argument.”

In fact, numerous studies have shown that voter ID laws disproportionately affect minority communities and are often passed in response to an increase in minority voting.

Kaufman: I can’t imagine how many widows are voting for their dead husbands in communities like I lived in.

Kobach: Yeah, it happens all the time. There are basically three sources of people on our voter rolls who are not supposed to be there. One is people who die and they stay on the voter rolls. The other is people who have moved out of state, but they’re on the rolls in both states. And the third is aliens, people who were never entitled to vote in the first place. And we’re trying to do something about in Kansas, but you can imagine how the folks on the left complain and say, ‘Well, you can’t do that.’ Well, yeah we can do that and we’re going to do that.

Kaufman: And it’s not bigoted.

Kobach: It’s not at all!

Kaufman: You’re not doing it to close the doors on minorities.

Kobach: Yeah, exactly. And I think it’s outrageous the argument some make that it hurts minorities. It’s almost a racist argument! You’re telling me that because of a person’s skin color, he’s less able to find his birth certificate? That’s just crazy to make that argument.

Kris Kobach Inadvertently Explains What's Wrong With Kansas' Strict Voter ID Law

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, following a federal court ruling upholding his strict requirement that people registering to vote must present a birth certificate or comparable proof of citizenship, is now hoping to peddle the law to other states. But in a conference call last night hosted by the group True The Vote, which was founded to support voter suppression laws, Kobach inadvertently explained what is so wrong with his policy, which has left 16,000 Kansans with their voter registrations suspended.

Kobach told True The Vote that he hoped that other states with voter ID laws would adopt his stricter version, and said that he had already discussed the possibility with Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. He also promised to put a generic version of the law on his personal website for activists to present to their own state legislators.

But while defending the law, Kobach made an argument that in fact illustrates what an extraordinary hurdle it may present to some voters.

“We really gave people lots of options” to prove their citizenship, Kobach boasted. He noted that there was even a “special process” for people who don’t have their birth certificate: “We created a process for that person to go before the state elections board and provide affidavit evidence and other evidence to show that they’re a US citizen. And that process has only been used twice.”

Yes, out of 16,000 people who have yet to provide the state with citizenship documentation, just two people without the proper documents have made it through the new bureaucratic hurdles to prove that they are citizens....which Kobach somehow sees as a great victory.

Later in the call, Kobach speculated that voter suppression laws helped increase the turnout in the 2012 elections because the people who are targeted by such laws actually love them. He said that he had talked to a counterpart in a southern state who told him of counties with high minority populations “where election fraud is so ingrained in the experience of voters…so when voter ID came along they had hope.”

“He believes it was the hope of a fairer election among some minority communities that had experienced fraudulent elections that drives the higher turnout,” Kobach said.

In fact, many elections experts say that high turnout among African-American voters in 2012 was driven in part by a backlash to voter suppression laws, not support for them.

Kobach Claims Voting Rights Groups Want 'Loosey-Goosey' System So They Can 'Benefit From That Fraud'

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the architect of anti-immigrant and voter suppression measures throughout the country, won a big victory last week when a federal court allowed Kansas and Arizona to require extra proof of citizenship from people registering to vote with federal voter registration forms.

Kansas’ strict new documentation requirement – which requires residents to produce a birth certificate, passport, or similar document in order to register to vote – has thrown the voter registrations of 16,000 people into limbo, a problem that Kobach has consistently laughed off.

In an interview with the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins on Washington Watch last week, Kobach insisted that voting rights advocates on the “radical left” have “great difficulty demonstrating that it’s actually harder” to register to vote with his arcane new system. In fact, he alleged that voting rights groups “just want the loosey-goosey kind of system that allows fraud to occur because they perhaps feel they can benefit from that fraud.”

To illustrate the urgent importance of blocking tens of thousands of people from the ballot box in order to prevent noncitizens from voting, Kobach produced “a couple of recent examples” of such fraud occurring. One such “recent example” was from 1997 – or 17 years ago. The other – a tale of “50 Somali nationals” voting in a Democratic primary in Kansas city, Missouri in 2010 – never actually happened. When Kobach brought up the same anecdote in an op-ed last year, the Kansas City Star looked into it and found that a court had dismissed charges about the illegal votes, finding that “credible evidence proves that there was no voter misconduct and there was no voter fraud with regard to this election.”

Interestingly, there was proven voter fraud in that 2010 Kansas City election. One candidate’s uncle and aunt pleaded guilty for fraud for voting for their nephew even though they lived outside of his district. That fraud would not have been prevented by Kobach’s proof-of-citizenship law.

Yet, Kobach is so insistent that the “radical left” wants to use noncitizen voters to steal elections that he’s willing to put the voter registrations of tens of thousands of Kansans on hold in the name of preventing it.

Kobach: We’ve got cases going back years in this country of aliens usually being manipulated by someone who’s trying to steal an election or trying to influence an election. They’re told, ‘hey you can vote,’ they may not know that they’re breaking federal and state law, but they go ahead and register to vote.

So, I can give you a couple of recent examples in our neck of the woods. In Kansas City, Missouri, in 2010, in the Democrat primary for the state legislature, about 50 Somali nationals were registered to vote and persuaded, coached, to vote for one candidate, and that guy ended up winning by one vote.

In Kansas, in my state, in 1997, some alien employees of a meat-packing plant across the border in Oklahoma were encouraged to register to vote in Kansas to help sway a country referendum on a hog-farming operation.

Perkins: Why the opposition? Why are people opposed to this?

Kobach: Well, as you know, it comes from groups on the radical left, and they make all kinds of claims asserting that it’s going to be harder to vote or harder to register, but they have great difficulty demonstrating that it’s actually harder or statistically showing that it produces reduced turnout when in fact the opposite seems to occur, people have greater confidence in their elections when they know they’re secure.

I don’t know, I think some of these groups just want the loosey-goosey kind of system that allows fraud to occur because they perhaps feel they can benefit from that fraud.

Kobach Mocked 'Procrastinators' Disenfranchised By His Voter ID Law, Claimed 'Nobody's Rights Have Been Suspended'

Yesterday, Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach and Arizona attorney general Tom Horne scored a big victory in federal court when a Kansas district court judge ruled that federal voter registration forms in both states must require voters to show proof of citizenship.

The proof-of-citizenship requirement, which Kobach shepherded through his state’s legislature, has created a huge mess, leaving the registrations suspended of nearly 16,000 voters who hadn’t or couldn’t provide the necessary documents.

Throughout the process, Kobach has dismissed the concerns of voting rights advocates and the growing chorus of protest from elections officials, newspaper editorial boards and others in Kansas. When 12,000 voters had their registration thrown in limbo, Kobach said it wasn’t a “major problem” because it was “only a tiny percentage” of the total voting population. (By contrast, the supposed reason for the law was to prevent a handful of fraudulent votes cast over a dozen years). When it was announced that only 72 percent of registered voters were able to meet the new requirement, Kobach boasted that “that’s actually an extraordinarily high percentage” and blamed “procrastination” for the 28 percent without complete registrations.

In a speech that Kobach gave in January to the Kansas Sovereignty Coalition, a Tenth Amendment group, Kobach mocked the Kansans – then totalling 19,000 – whose voter registrations were in limbo as "the 28 percent procrastinators," claiming that “nobody’s been denied any rights.”

“Nobody’s rights have been suspended,” he claimed. “Those 19,000 people haven’t completed their registration yet. They can complete it tomorrow and vote tomorrow if they want to. Nobody’s been denied any rights, they just haven’t finished it yet.”

“Oh and by the way, 72 percent of the people who have registered to vote since January 1, 2013, have completed their application and have sent in proof of citizenship. So those are the 28 percent procrastinators.”

“We should not get alarmed at all by the number that the left continually throws around,” he said.

Tellingly, when Kobach first mentions “voting rights,” and audience member loudly corrects him: “privilege, privilege.”

The Cost Of Being Kris Kobach’s Guinea Pig

Yesterday, Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach suffered a double setback when the Supreme Court refused to hear appeals of decisions striking down two local anti-immigrant ordinances that Kobach had written and shepherded through the courts. Now, both towns are facing the possibility of paying legal fees for opponents on top of years of legal costs that they had already incurred.

Kobach was behind an ordinance in Farmers Branch, Texas, that required people to prove they were in the country legally in order to rent a home and one in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, that would have penalized people who rent to or employ undocumented immigrants. Both ordinances were struck down by federal courts, and neither town succeeded in appealing those decisions to the Supreme Court.

In August, the Dallas Morning News reported that Farmers Branch, a town of 29,000 people, had already spent $6 million defending the law since it was first passed in 2006, and expected to pay $2 million in legal fees for its opponents if it lost in the courts. The town has already been forced to cut back in other areas of its budget in order to keep up with the costs of defending the ordinance, despite a $500,000 contribution from real estate heir Trammell Crow.

Meanwhile, Hazleton reported last year that it had spent nearly $500,000 on legal fees since 2006, financed mostly from donations from an online fundraising campaign, along with a $50,000 gift from Crow. But the Hazleton Standard Speaker reports today that the city’s legal defense fund has dried up and it’s facing the possibility of paying millions of dollars in legal fees for civil rights groups that challenged the law. The town of 25,000 faces these costs on top of a pension fund deficit of over $28 million.

Even Kobach-backed ordinances that fare better in the courts can still present huge costs for cities that take up his anti-immigrant crusade. Residents of Fremont, Nebraska, voted last month to keep a similar Kobach-written anti-immigrant ordinance after it was upheld by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Since the ordinance was first passed in 2010, the town raised its property taxes in order to set aside $1.5 million to pay legal fees and implementation costs; the town also risks losing millions of dollars in future federal grants.

While Kobach uses small cities to push his anti-immigrant experiments, those cities are forced to foot the bill as they work through the courts. The cities sometimes even pay for Kobach's services. The Southern Poverty Law Center noted in 2011 that "Kobach has said that he normally charges about $50,000 a year to defend his ordinances against legal challenges. He described that rate as under market and said he wants to ensure 'the cities can afford it.'"

States that push Kobach's harsh anti-immigrant laws have also faced enormous costs. Arizona spent millions of dollars defending SB1070 before it was ultimately largely struck down by the Supreme Court, and lost an estimated $23 million in tax revenue and $350 in direct spending from a resulting economic boycott.

Kobach’s home state is hardly immune from this either – state election officials are now facing the possibility of having to set up a dual elections system in which 15,000 voters caught up in Kobach’s voter ID plan will be allowed to vote only in federal elections – a costly bureaucratic nightmare.

UPDATED: Anti-Immigrant Group Pushes Draconian Nebraska Ordinance

Updated

Activists fighting to keep a draconian anti-immigrant ordinance in a Nebraska town reportedly have called in the big guns: the Nativist group FAIR.

In 2010, voters in Fremont, Nebraska passed an ordinance barring landlords from renting to undocumented immigrants and requiring employers to check new employee’s immigration status. (The employment provision exempted the town’s largest employers, two meatpacking plants just outside of city limits.) Behind the law was Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has made a name for himself by peddling anti-immigrant and voter suppression measures to communities across the country.

Last summer, a federal appeals court upheld the law but a city councilmember has introduced a ballot referendum to repeal parts of it. This has angered proponents of the law, who have set up a group called “Our Vote Should Count” and gathered support from the national nativist group FAIR (a former Kobach employer), according to the Fremont Tribune :

Our Vote Should Count enlisted the help of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the Tea Party Patriots, True The Vote, and other national organizations, including a Washington, D.C.-based analyst and an Omaha media consultant, to put together a media campaign that will use social media, print media, flyers and canvassing to get out their message.

UPDATE: The Fremont Tribune reported that the group True the Vote was involved in the Fremont initiative. True the Vote tells us that they had no involvement in the measure and are seeking a retraction from the Tribune. We have removed True the Vote from our our story.

UPDATE 2: The Fremont Tribune reports that Our Vote Should Count was in contact with local organizers at FAIR and True the Vote, which may not have come to the attention of the national groups:

“In assembling facts and data,” Von Behren replied in an email to the Tribune, “we met individually with representatives of Tea Party Patriots, True The Vote and (the Federation for American Immigration Reform). Each provided varying levels of support, including data access, technical support, data analysis and general knowledge of the issues from their experience. It's correct that the national office of True The Vote may not have known about local conversations. I would expect the same of (Tea Party Patriots) or FAIR.

“The information provided was all publicly available, but much easier to find with help from someone who works in that area. Neither of the other two organizations raised a concern so we assumed that was the normal function of a local representative,” Von Behren wrote.

Supporters of the Fremont ordinance don’t exactly hide that they are motivated by suspicion of the town’s growing Hispanic population – whether documented or not. One Vote Should count shared this graphic on its Facebook page, which warns that “Fremont is a sanctuary city” because its “Hispanic population TRIPLED! in 10 years”:

In November, Harpers author Ted Genoways visited a town meeting about the ordinance and found racial tensions running high, as one woman railed against “Spanish in my schools” and a Latina resident, a third-generation American, recalled a man screaming at her to “go back to Mexico.”

An Our Vote Should Count spokesman, after warning of the increase in the “non-white population” in local schools, told the Fremont Tribune that the real racists were undocumented immigrants:

Enforcing the ordinance is not about targeting a race, he said.

“There are two levels of racism here. One is a set of racists who will use illegal people for their own profit, and that is being done actively. The other racism is people who knowingly break the law to come here for their own profit,” he said.

 

Kobach Still Struggling To Clean Up Kansas Voter Registration Mess

A strict proof-of-citizenship requirement for Kansas voters pushed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach has now suspended the voting rights of over 19,000 Kansans who were unable to provide a birth certificate, passport or other proof of citizenship to election officials, and Kobach continues to struggle to clean up the mess the law has made.

In his latest attempt to fix the problem, Kobach has arranged with another state agency to start checking the names of voters in limbo against birth certificate records to confirm voters’ citizenship.

The problem? The birth certificate search will only find voters born in Kansas, and it may not catch people, such as married women, who have changed their names. The Kansas City Star interviewed Kobach, who explained that he was simply practicing “good government” and providing an “extra service”:

The state’s vital statistics office will compare lists of would-be voters to its records. Kobach’s office would be notified when matches are confirmed. The procedure will be followed in the future as Kansans register to vote.

“This, in my view, is good government,” Kobach said.

But critics were quick to point out that Kobach’s idea could pose constitutional problems because it treats voters born in Kansas differently from voters born elsewhere.

It also raises questions about how women might be treated. Many change their names after getting married and might not be matched with birth records kept by the state.

“That is not actually going to work,” said Doug Bonney, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri.

Kobach said provisions will be made for women. He said the state health department tracks name changes and those records will be matched against the voting records.

Kobach, however, conceded that prospective voters born in Kansas will benefit more than voters born in another state.

He said there are many examples throughout government where people might have an advantage because of their age, marital status or residence.

“It’s an extra service but it’s not something that would amount to a violation of equal protection of law,” he said.

This is only Kobach’s latest attempt to clean up the mess that his law has created. Along with Arizona, he has sued the federal government to allow Kansas to require proof of citizenship with the federal voter registration form. He has said that if he loses that case he’ll move to set up a two-tiered voting system in the state in which those who register with the federal form without additional proof of citizenship are barred from voting in state elections.

Kobach Uncovers Massive Voter Fraud…In 1855

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has  been getting absolutely creamed by the state press for his proposal to create a two-tiered voting system if his lawsuit against the federal government to make voter registration more difficult fails.

Now, he’s fighting back.

In an op-ed published on the website of KSAL this week, Kobach claims that his efforts to require a “proof of citizenship” document to register to vote – which has put the registration of 17,000 Kansans into limbo and instigated the two-tier plan —is necessary because of “rampant voter fraud”… in Kansas’ first territorial election in 1855.

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.

Recognizing the need to protect the fairness of elections, the Kansas (Wyandotte) Constitution, adopted in 1859, provided that every Kansas voter must be a United States citizen to cast a legal ballot. The Kansas Constitution also states that the Kansas legislature shall provide for “proper proofs,” or evidence, of the right to vote. It was that authority that the Kansas Legislature exercised during the 2011 legislative session, when it enacted the Secure and Fair Elections (SAFE) Act, which I drafted.

In 1855, about 5,000 pro-slavery Missourians, known as “border ruffians,” streamed over the border to Kansas in a successful effort to elect a pro-slavery legislature (abolitionists had previously organized thousands of northerners to settle the new territory in an attempt to make it a free state). These border ruffians were involved in all sorts of mischief, including violence, intimidation and literal ballot-box stuffing, beginning a bloody pre-Civil War conflict.  This is an interesting history lesson, but not exactly relevant to today’s elections.

But it wasn’t just an anomalous period in the nineteenth century that saw voter fraud, Kobach says. He disputes an editorial that contends that he has found “only a handful of voter fraud cases,” saying that in fact he presented 221 fraud cases to the state legislature in 2011.

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.

The forms of voter fraud included everything from voting in the same election in two different states, to fraudulently requesting another person’s mail-in ballot, to impersonating another voter at the polls, to fraudulently voting an elderly person’s ballot at a nursing home and forging the person’s signature. These are serious criminal acts that threaten the integrity of our elections.

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

Meanwhile, Kobach’s plan to prevent the epidemic of seven cases of voter fraud over 13 years has suspended the voting rights of 17,000 people and now may result in a bureaucratic nightmare in which some Kansans are allowed to vote only in federal elections and some are still not allowed to vote at all.

But Kobach claims that in proposing a two-tiered voting system to “fix” the mess that his proof of citizenship requirement has made, he is actually “doing the opposite.”

Kobach claims that it is actually the courts that are at fault for Kansas' voting system crisis because they have required states to accept the federal "motor voter" registration form, which requires voters to affirm their citizenship under penalty of perjury but doesn't require extra documentation. Confident he’ll win his lawsuit to add extra restrictions to the federal form in Kansas and Arizona, he insists that he is actually trying “to avoid having two categories of voters.”

In fact I am doing the opposite. Under my leadership, Kansas and Arizona have joined forces to sue the federal government’s Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to change the federal mail voter registration form so that proof of citizenship can be requested from those Kansans who use the form, as Kansas law requires. We are suing in order to avoid the two-categories-of-voters-plan that the editorial board criticizes.

The suit is necessary because, this past summer, the United States Supreme Court in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council said that states must “accept and use” the federal mail voter registration form to register voters for federal elections. As it is currently written, the federal form for Kansas doesn’t require proof of citizenship. (The state form, which more than 99% of voters use, does require proof of citizenship.)

The way to avoid having two categories of voters is for Kansas and Arizona to bring such a lawsuit and win. The good news is that the Supreme Court specifically suggested this lawsuit in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council. So there is a very high probability that we will win.
 

Kobach Moving Forward With Plan to Create Two Classes of Voters in Kansas

Back in August, we reported that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was considering a novel voter suppression idea. Kobach has been struggling to implement a new law that he backed requiring voters to present proof of citizenship when registering to vote. As a result of the law, over 17,000 Kansans who registered to vote using a federal form (which doesn’t require proof of citizenship) or used a state form but couldn’t dig up a birth certificate have had their voter registration suspended.

Kobach said that this mass disenfranchisement wasn't a “major problem,” but he did have a proposal to deal with it: Create two classes of voters, some who are allowed to vote only in federal elections and others who are allowed to vote in both state and federal elections.

Now, the Wichita Eagle reports, Kobach is moving ahead with his plan. The Eagle obtained a July 31 memo from Kobach’s office to county elections officials instructing them to track which voter registration applicants apply using a federal form and which submit an acceptable proof of citizenship.

The Eagle explains that if the plan moves forward, Kansas voters will be sorted into three categories, each with separate voting rights. Those who provide proof of citizenship with either a state or federal form will be allowed to vote in all elections. Those who register with a federal form and don't provide supplemental citizenship proof will be allowed to vote just in federal elections. Meanwhile, Kansans who use the state voter registration form but don’t provide proof of citizenship will remain unable to vote at all. 

Kobach claims that this byzantine scheme is just a “contingency plan” in case he fails in suing the federal government to add extra requirements to federal voter registration forms used in Kansas.

Kobach… confirmed he’s planning for elections with different ballots for different voters, depending on whether they register under federal or state rules. He said it’s “merely a contingency plan” in case he loses a lawsuit seeking to make federal officials adopt Kansas rules for voters in Kansas.

The plan creates three classes of registered voters, according to the Legislative Research report provided to Ward on Thursday:

  • Voters using either the federal or Kansas form and providing state-required documents proving their citizenship would be able to vote in all federal, state and local elections.
  • Voters who use the federal form but don’t provide citizenship documents will be allowed to vote only for candidates running for president, vice president and Congress.
  • Registrants who file a Kansas form but don’t provide citizenship documents will be put in suspension and won’t be allowed to vote in any election.

Unsurprisingly, this plan is already causing a headache among county elections officials, reports the Eagle:

Sherman County Clerk Janet Rumpel...said she has asked the Secretary of State’s Office for clarification on whether she would have to prepare two sets of ballots for primary and general elections every two years on the chance somebody files a federal registration form – which she has never actually seen.

“It would be a nightmare for us,” she said.

But, as usual, Kobach seems unfazed.

The Eagle reports that “sidewalk and door-to-door registration drives ground to a halt” when the proof-of-citizenship requirement came into effect, “because of the impracticality of getting the needed documents to complete the process.” Democratic state representative Jim Ward recounted a discussion he had with Kobach about the difficulty of holding voter registration drives under the new law. Kobach reportedly replied that people holding voter registration drives should just “carry a copy machine" with them:

Ward said it’s Kobach who’s doing voters a disservice by demanding documents that most people don’t have close at hand and that Congress and the Supreme Court says they don’t have to provide.

He said he once asked Kobach how to collect the documents in a registration drive and Kobach’s response was “carry a copy machine with you.”

“It was a snarky response, but I think it tells you his attitude toward the right to vote,” Ward said.
 

Kobach’s Latest Plan to Keep 15,000 Kansans From Voting: Sue the Federal Government

Kansas secretary of state and national voter suppression advocate Kris Kobach has been struggling in recent months to implement a new “proof of citizenship” voter registration requirement that he pushed into law. But now he has a new plan: sue the federal government to make it harder to register to vote with a federal form in his state.

Like a similar Arizona law that was recently struck down by the Supreme Court, Kansas’ law requires those registering to vote to produce documented proof of citizenship beyond the sworn oath required on federal voter registration forms. This has produced an administrative nightmare in Kansas, throwing the voting status of at least 15,000 people who registered with the federal form into limbo.

Kobach’s first plan to fix this was to force the thousands of Kansans who had registered with the federal form to cast provisional ballots in the next election, which would then only count if they showed up later at an elections office armed with a birth certificate or other citizenship document. The state board of elections rejected the plan, which one Republican state senator called “disingenuous at best.”

Kobach then got creative, suggesting that Kansas create two classes of voters, with those who register with the federal form only allowed to vote in federal elections. Voting rights advocates balked.

Now, Kobach has a new plan. Along with Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, Kobach is suing the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to require the federal government to add extra “proof of citizenship” requirements to federal voter registration forms in the two states. Andy Marso at the Topeka Capital-Journal sums up the scheme:

Facing the possibility of legal action over 15,000-plus suspended voter registrations, Secretary of State Kris Kobach struck back by announcing Wednesday his own suit against a federal election commission.

Kobach said at a news conference that he and Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, both Republicans, have filed a complaint against the U.S. Election Assistance Commission asking that federal voter registration forms issued to residents of their states include state-specific proof of citizenship requirements like the ones on state forms largely responsible for putting thousands of Kansas registrations on hold.

Kobach said the court case is "the first of its kind."

Kansas voters will be best served when the EAC amends the Kansas-specific instructions on the Federal Form to include submitting concrete evidence of U.S. citizenship when registering to vote," Kobach said.

Kobach said the lawsuit would partially preempt a suit being prepared but he American Civil Liberties Union over the suspended registrations.

“It does block many of the arguments the ACLU might wish to raise,” Kobach said.

Kobach explains that he is answering the “invitation” that Justice Antonin Scalia left in his opinion in the Arizona case, in which the justice suggested that Arizona try such a move.

Kobach and the ACLU have disagreed on much when it comes to voting laws, but both he and Bonney said U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's majority opinion in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., invited a lawsuit.

"This lawsuit is pursuant to Scalia's invitation," Kobach said.

Kris Kobach's Bold New Plan to Keep People From Voting

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has become a national figure by advising other states on how to implement anti-immigrant and voter suppression measures, has come up with a new creative way to make it harder for Kansans to vote: barring those who register to vote with a federal form from casting ballots in state elections.

Back in June, the Supreme Court struck down an Arizona elections law that required those registering to vote to show proof of citizenship beyond what is required by federal voter registration forms. In Kansas, Kobach has been struggling to deal with the implementation of a similar proof-of-citizenship law, which has left the voting status of at least 12,000 Kansans in limbo.

These voters, many of whom registered with the federal “motor voter” form at the DMV, were supposed to have their citizenship information automatically updated, a process that was delayed by a computer glitch. Kobach then suggested that these 12,000 voters be forced to cast provisional ballots – a suggestion that the state elections board rejected.

Now, the Lawrence Journal-World reports, Kobach has a new idea to deal with the problem that he created. The paper reports that Kobach is considering a plan to circumvent the Supreme Court’s decision in the Arizona case by creating two classes of voters. Under this plan, those who register with a federal form would be allowed to vote only in federal elections until they produced the state-required citizenship documents. Those who meet the state registration requirements would then be allowed to vote in state-level elections.

In Kansas, a new state law requires proof of citizenship to register to vote.

Kobach, a Republican who pushed for that law, said he is considering a proposed rule change that would allow those who use the federal form to register to vote to be allowed to vote in federal elections, such as presidential and congressional contests. The federal voter registration form does not require proof of citizenship documents, but includes a signed sworn statement that the individual is a U.S. citizen.

But those people would not be allowed to vote in state elections, such as contests for governor, other statewide offices and the Legislature.

Those who register to vote by providing proof of citizenship will be able to vote in both federal and state elections under the proposal.

Voting rights advocates in the state are understandably skeptical:

Dolores Furtado, president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas, said she would strongly oppose such a plan.

"It won't work," Furtado said. "When we can't handle registrations, the process of applications and processing registrations, how are we going to separate ballots?" she said. "This is creating a problem. Whenever we make things complex, people shun away."

When the elections board rejected his provisional ballots plan, Kobach was taken aback, saying that those who register to vote with the motor voter form aren’t likely to vote anyway, so disenfranchising 12,000 of them wasn’t “a major problem.” That seems to be his justification for the two classes of voter plan as well.  According to the World-Journal, “Kobach said few Kansans register to vote using the federal form, so it shouldn't affect too many voters.”
 

Kris Kobach Thinks Disenfranchising 12,000 Voters Isn't a 'Major Problem'

A state elections board has prevented Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach from forcing the status of 12,000 voters into limbo, but he doesn’t get what the big deal is.

Kobach hit a speed bump this week in his effort to implement a new voter ID measure that requires voters to produce proof of citizenship when they register to vote. As Think Progress reported yesterday, a computer system delay has caused the voting status of 12,000 Kansans, most of whom registered while doing business at the DMV under the “motor voter” law, to go into limbo.

To “fix” this problem, Kobach suggested that the 12,000 voters effected by the computer glitch be forced to cast provisional ballots in the next election. If they wanted those ballots to count, they would have to later go to local election officials armed with proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate.

The state elections board rejected Kobach’s solution. As Republican state senator Vick Schmidt said, “I don’t believe a large percentage of the population knows what casting a provisional ballot means. They believe it is going to count. Sadly for these 12,000-plus individuals, it will not count unless they take further action, and I think that is disingenuous at best.”

But Kobach told the Wichita Eagle that disenfranchising those 12,000 people wouldn’t be a “major problem” because they represent a “tiny percentage” of Kansas’ voters and probably don’t really want to vote anyway:

Kobach said his proposal would have given voters, particularly those who could participate in upcoming special elections this fall, an extra week to prove their citizenship. But he said those who remain in suspense probably only registered after being asked by clerks at the Department of Motor Vehicles and aren’t likely to be very active voters.

“I don’t think it’s a major problem,” he said. “This is a pretty tiny percentage of 1.8 million voters. It’s a small number of people. We’ll see as the coming elections unfold how many actually come out to vote.”

To put this in perspective, Kobach’s justification for pushing the voter ID law in the first place was what he alleged were 221 incidents of illegal voting in Kansas over the period of 13 years, only seven of which resulted in convictions.

So, Kobach thinks seven confirmed cases of voter fraud over 13 years requires upending the state’s entire voting system. But that overhaul resulting in 12,000 voters in one election forced to cast ballots that might not count affects “a small number of people” and is not a “major problem.”

Kobach: Immigration Advocates Like the KKK, 'Just Not Wearing White Cloaks'

Yesterday, Glenn Beck accused the immigration reform advocates who held a peaceful protest outside the home of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach of practicing “domestic terrorism” just like the Ku Klux Klan. Today, Kobach himself appeared on Beck’s radio show and agreed with this assessment. “They’re just not wearing white cloaks, but this is exactly KKK type of intimidation,” the Kobach said.

“The left is set up on revenge,” Beck responded, “and so they’re using the tactics of those who kept them down in the past that we all tried to defeat…So they’re just changing their hood or changing their language, but it is not changing who they really are or what they’re trying to do.”

Beck also compared the demonstrators to Greece’s Golden Dawn party, a neo-Nazi group with ties to anti-immigrant hate crimes.

Kobach previously threatened to use violence against the “mob” of protesters.

Beck: Immigration Reform Advocates Practicing KKK-Style 'Domestic Terrorism'

Whatever you think of the decision by Kansas immigration reform advocates to hold a peaceful protest outside of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s house this weekend, you could probably agree that there is a significant difference between the protesters – pictured here – and the Ku Klux Klan.

But not if you’re Glenn Beck. Beck was scheduled to interview Kobach on his program yesterday, but Kobach had to drop off the call due to technical difficulties. So Beck winged it, showing a video of the protest and asking, “What’s the difference between that and the Klan coming to Martin Luther King’s house?”

“This is not just domestic terrorism, this is civil rights stuff,” he added. “This isn’t America. This is old-style South kind of tactics.”

Responding to the protest yesterday, Kobach said the “mob” at his house is the “reason we have the Second Amendment” and worried that the protesters could have tried to break in.

UPDATE: Beck finally got on the phone with Kobach, who agreed with him about the demonstrators: “They’re just not wearing white cloaks, but this is exactly KKK type of intimidation."

Kobach Tells 'Mob' that Protested at His House: 'There's a Reason We Have a 2nd Amendment'

Yesterday, a group of about 100 supporters of comprehensive immigration reform staged a protest at the house of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has been a driving force behind anti-immigrant laws around the country. By all accounts, the protest was peaceful: a short video of the event shows protesters carefully staying off the grass as they repeat the chants of a man with a bullhorn.

But Kobach, who was not at home at the time, tells Fox News' Todd Starnes, “I shudder to think what would have happened if one of those members of the mob had tried to break into the house.”

He added that he would have considered using a firearm against the protestors: “It’s important we recognize there’s a reason we have the Second Amendment. There are situations like this where you have a mob and you do need to be able to protect yourself.”

Starnes reports that Kobach told him  “a large number of the protesters were believed to be illegal aliens."

“I was just appalled,” Kobach told Fox News. “They have a right to protect at my office or at public places – that’s fine. But they don’t have a right to enter someone’s private property and engage in this kind of intimidation.”

“I have four little girls and they would have been terrified to see 200 protesters shouting at their daddy on megaphones on the front lawn,” he said.

The secretary of state said a large number of the protesters were believed to be illegal aliens. They can be seen on video chanting in Spanish, standing on Kobach’s porch, front yard and driveway and demanding that he come outside.


Kobach said he was especially troubled to learn that it took police at least 15 minutes to respond to his house.

“You have a mob of 200 people gathering on someone’s property and it takes the police 15 minutes to get there,” he said. “That doesn’t give you a whole lot of confidence either. I shudder to think what would have happened if one of those members of the mob had tried to break into the house.”

He also feared what would have happened had he been home with his wife and four young daughters.

“On a typical Saturday, my four girls would have been riding their bikes and coloring chalk in the driveway,” he said. “That’s where they play. If four buses pulled up and the mob started marching down upon them, they would have been absolutely terrified.”

The secretary of state is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment – and he said the incident at his home is an example of why Americans should bear arms.

“If we had been in the home and not been armed, I would have felt very afraid – because it took the police 15 minutes to show up,” he said. “It’s important we recognize there’s a reason we have the Second Amendment. There are situations like this where you have a mob and you do need to be able to protect yourself.”

He said had they been home and the mob had gotten out of hand, his family would have been in “grave jeopardy.”

“The Second Amendment is the private property owner’s last resort,” he said.

Kobach said he’s asked local police and the county attorney to investigate the incident. He believes a number of laws were violated including terrorizing a public official.
 

Kansas' Kobach Pushes Plan that Would Disenfranchise Alaska Natives

Back in April, two Alaska House committees approved a bill that would require voters to show a photo ID at the polls – a particularly damaging measure in a state where many rural communities don’t even require photos on drivers’ licenses. Now, the Anchorage Daily News is reporting that there is a familiar face behind the measure. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the driving force behind voter suppression and anti-immigrant measures around the country, reportedly coordinated with Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell to push the bill in what looks like an effort to damage Democratic Sen. Mark Begich in his 2014 reelection bid. (Treadwell denies that he worked with Kobach on the bill, which he says he opposes.)

Alaska Natives say a photo ID rule would be a roadblock to voting in the Bush. A decline in turnout there, with its traditionally heavy Democratic vote, could affect the 2014 reelection hopes of U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat running in a Republican-leaning state. One of his potential rivals is Alaska's top election official, Republican Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell.

Treadwell says he doesn't support the voter ID bill, but Kobach says Treadwell was instrumental in getting him involved in promoting the Alaska legislation.

In an April statement to reporters that didn't mention Kobach or Kansas, Treadwell touted the cross-checking as having found 14 people suspected of "actually voting in both Alaska and another state" in 2012. Treadwell threatened to prosecute the voters if the allegations were confirmed.

Alaska elections director Gail Fenumiai recently said 12 of the 14 voters cited in Treadwell's April statement were wrongly identified as duplicate voters and actually voted only in Alaska.



Kobach told the Daily News it was he who suggested to Treadwell that Alaska get involved in the Kansas project. "I personally talked to Mead Treadwell, your lieutenant governor, and encouraged him to join, and he did so," Kobach said.

And his testimony on the photo ID bill, Kobach said, was the result of a conversation with Treadwell.

"I spoke to Mead about it at one of our national conferences -- he mentioned that you guys were considering a photo ID law," Kobach said. "I said I'd be happy to share some of the experiences we've had in Kansas."

Treadwell, who said he doesn't support the Alaska bill because of the difficulty for Bush residents to get photo identification, said he didn't recall talking to Kobach about it.

As the Daily News explains, a photo ID bill would be especially damaging to Alaska Natives living in rural communities where DMVs are hard to access and where many towns don’t even require photographs on drivers’ licenses:

Photo ID measures are controversial across the country. Advocates say they help prevent fraud. Opponents say they make it more difficult for particular groups of people to vote: the elderly, students and the poor who don't own cars. In Alaska, the situation is compounded by the difficulty of getting to a Division of Motor Vehicles office in a regional hub like Nome or Bethel from a small village. Alaska doesn't even require a photograph on a driver's license in dozens of Bush communities.

Democratic activists say photo ID bills have the effect of disenfranchising more Democratic voters than Republicans. In his annual address to the Alaska Legislature this year, Begich criticized the bill as making it more difficult for Alaska Natives and Hispanics -- two traditional Democratic groups -- to vote.

The sponsor of Alaska’s bill, who has acknowledged that he drafted the measure using materials from the corporate-funded conservative group ALEC, had odd words of consolation for those concerned about the suppressive impact of the bill: at least it wouldn’t be as bad as Iraq!

Rep. Bob Lynn, an Anchorage Republican who is prime sponsor of the voter ID bill, said he wasn't trying to disenfranchise anyone. He dismissed opponents as complainers who should be happy they don't face the kind of obstacles voters do in places like Iraq.

"Terrorists have threatened to kill anyone who voted, but they voted anyway, and then these voters put ink in their finger to prove they had voted -- evidence that could have gotten them killed. Now that's a hassle, to say the least. Needing a photo ID to vote in Alaska wouldn't even come close to that," Lynn said when his State Affairs Committee first heard the bill in February.
 

Kobach Seeks to Expand Own Power Over 'Election Fraud' Cases

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the driving force behind draconian anti-immigrant laws in Arizona and Alabama and a rising national figure on the Right, is close to a major victory on one of his other pet projects – gaining attention for the mythical problem of “election fraud.”

Kansas’ legislature is poised to grant Kobach’s office the power to prosecute election fraud cases that it identifies, a responsibility previously reserved for county and federal prosecutors. Kobach claims that prosecutors and the state attorney general’s office are neglecting these cases because of “a very full plate.”

But a look at even a few of the cases Kobach claims that prosecutors are neglecting tells a very different story. In February, Kobach told The Topeka Capital-Journal that he had referred eleven “slam dunk” cases to prosecutors, none of which had ended in convictions. But one of the prosecutors responsible for following up on those cases found that most were isolated incidents involving people who were just confused about the voting laws:

Johnson County District Attorney Stephen Howe took exception to some of Kobach's characterizations in his testimony on behalf of the Kansas County and District Attorneys Association. Howe said Kobach's bird’s-eye view of widespread voter fraud crumbles when investigated by those on the ground.

For instance, Howe said one double-voter his office investigated was an elderly man showing "the early stages of dementia." Howe's office notified the man's family rather than prosecute him.

Another alleged double voter was a developmentally disabled man.

“Are we supposed to prosecute that case?" Howe asked. "I chose not to.”

This fits with the pattern. In 2011, Kobach claimed that there had been 221 incidents of voter fraud in Kansas between 1997 and 2010. Yet just seven of these resulted in convictions.

Kobach now claims that he has identified at least 30 cases of illegal double voting in the 2012 election by finding people with the same name and birthdate who voted in two separate states. Such matching tactics have in the past have resulted not in legitimate voter fraud convictions, but in embarrassing errors and mass wrongful disenfranchisement.

Kobach’s issue with the state’s prosecutors seems to be not that they haven’t properly investigated voter fraud – but that they have failed to promote the conspiracy theory about widespread voter fraud that, when it becomes popular, benefits people like Kris Kobach and the policies they pursue.
 

The GOP Pays the Big Price for Bashing Latinos

 

Losing the Latino vote "spells doom for us." - Mitt Romney, April 15, 2012

"Should I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community." - President Obama, October 26, 201 2

At last, bipartisan agreement! You don't need a degree in political science to know this: demonizing and alienating the fastest-growing group in the country is no way to build long-term political success. Pair that with the fact that demonizing any group of Americans is un-American and just plain wrong. But in recent years, Republicans, and especially party standard-bearer Mitt Romney, just haven't been able to help themselves. In an effort to win over a shrinking and increasingly extreme base, Romney and team have sold their souls to get the Republican presidential nomination. And they went so far to do it that even their famous etch-a-sketch won't be able to erase their positions.

As Mitt Romney knows, the slipping support of the GOP among Latinos is no mystery. We've seen this movie before, in 1994, when Republican California Gov. Pete Wilson pushed anti-immigrant smears to promote California's anti-immigrant Prop 187 which in turn buoyed his own tough re-election campaign. It worked in the short term - both the ballot measure and Gov. Wilson won handily - but what a long term price to pay as California became solidly blue for the foreseeable future.

We're now seeing what happened in California at a national scale. Harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric helped Romney win the Republican primary. But in the general election, it may well be his downfall.

In case you tuned out Romney's appeals to the anti-immigrant Right during the primaries, here's a quick recap. He ran ads specifically criticizing Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina Supreme Court justice. He says he'd veto the DREAM Act , a rare immigration provision with overwhelming bipartisan support. He took on anti-immigrant leader Kris Kobach, architect of the draconian anti-immigrant measures in Arizona and Alabama as an adviser , then said his immigration plan was to force undocumented immigrants to"self-deport." He even endorsed Iowa Rep. Steve King, who suggested building an electric fence at the Mexican border, comparing immigrants to "livestock" and "dogs." Romney's new attempts to appeal to Latino voters are clearly empty - he's already promised the Right that he will use their anti-immigrant rhetoric whenever it's convenient and shut down any reasonable attempts at immigration reform.

If President Obama wins reelection, however, we have a real chance for real immigration reform. He told the Des Moines Register last week that if reelected he will work to achieve immigration reform next year. Beyond incremental steps like his institution of part of the DREAM Act by executive order, real comprehensive immigration reform would finally ease the uncertainty of millions of immigrants and the businesses that hire them. It's something that George W. Bush and John McCain wanted before it was thwarted by extremists in their own party. It's something that Mitt Romney clearly won't even try.

If President Obama wins, and especially when he wins with the help of Latino voters turned off by the GOP's anti-immigrant politics, he will have a strong mandate to create clear and lasting immigration reform. And Republicans will have to think twice before hitching their futures on the politics of demonization and exclusion. Whereas George W. Bush won 44 percent of the Latino vote in 2004 and John McCain 31 percent in 2008, Mitt Romney is polling at just 21 percent among Latinos. That's no coincidence.

My group, People For the American Way, has been working to make sure that the GOP's anti-Latino policies and rhetoric are front and center during the presidential election. We're running a comprehensive campaign aimed at the large Latino populations in Nevada and Colorado and the rapidly growing Latino populations in Iowa, Wisconsin, Virginia, and North Carolina. In each of those states, we're strategically targeting Latino voters with TV and radio ads, direct mail, internet ads and phone banking to make sure they hear the GOP's message about their community. In Colorado, we're going up against Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS , which knows just as well as Romney that the loss of Latino voters "spells doom" for Republicans. In all of these states, higher turnout among Latinos motivated by Mitt Romney's attacks could swing critical electoral votes.

This is a battle where the right thing to do and the politically smart thing to do are one and the same. Republicans have embraced racially-charged attacks against Latinos, pushing English-only laws,attempting to legalize racial profiling by immigration enforcement, dehumanizing immigrants, and even attacking the first Latina Supreme Court justice for talking about her heritage. They deserve to lose the votes of Latinos and others for it. This presidential election is a choice between right-wing scare tactics-- the last resort of those fighting to return to an imaginary America of the past-- and policies that embrace and celebrate our growing Latino population as an integral part of what is the real America.

This post originally appeared at the Huffington Post.

PFAW

The Right to Vote Under Attack, 2012 Update

Here we detail, as of October 6, 2012, except where otherwise noted, the latest efforts across the country to suppress the vote, as well as some encouraging successes in expanding the franchise.

People For the American Way Expands Latino Vote Campaign to Colorado

Washington, DC -- With a week to go before Election Day, People For the American Way has announced that it is expanding its national Latino voter campaign to run Spanish-language TV ads in Colorado, where the presidential race remains tight and the votes of Latinos will be critical. PFAW's message will counter that of Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, which recently began running Spanish-language TV ads in Colorado. 

"Karl Rove is telling lies to Latinos in Colorado, trying to hide Mitt Romney's extreme anti-immigrant record," said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. "We're making sure Latino voters in Colorado know the truth about Mitt Romney. He said he would veto the DREAM Act, if given the chance. His immigration plan is to copy the extreme anti-immigrant policies of Arizona and Alabama, attempting to force undocumented immigrants to 'self-deport.' He has embraced his party's anti-immigrant extremists, taking on Kris Kobach as an adviser. Romney's plans aren't real solutions -- they are dangerous gifts to the anti-immigrant Right."

The PFAW ad running in Colorado, "DREAM Act," can be viewed here.

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