What You Need to Know About the Kobach Voter Fraud Trial

One of Republican President Donald Trump’s first actions when he was sworn into office was to commit to a full investigation of†the country’s voter integrity. The goal was two-fold: find proof of “voter fraud” to appease the far right, and to bolster the president’s preposterous claim that he likely would have won the popular vote, as well as the electoral college, if only “millions of illegal immigrants” hadn’t voted for Hillary Clinton.

Heading up the so-called investigation was Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the creator of a Kansas law demanding proof of citizenship in order to cast ballots — a law challenged by the ACLU. Now, a year later, Kobach is being forced to admit that his quest for the illusive voter fraud epidemic has come to nothing.

The legal battle over Kobach’s proof of citizenship requirement hit the courts in early March, with Kobach inadvertently providing ample evidence that voter fraud is practically non-existent. “The ACLU says the stateís proof-of-citizenship law prevented more than 30,000 eligible Kansans from casting votes. Kobach says the law is needed to prevent noncitizens from interfering in elections, estimating as many as 18,000 are illegally on Kansas voter rolls,” The Topeka†Capital-Journal reports.

But when it came to actually following up on illegally cast ballots, that 18,000 voters dwindled quickly down to 5. According to Talking Points Memo:

A spreadsheet created by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobachís office became a focal point in the trial over Kansasí voter registration proof-of-citizenship requirement. The spreadsheet shows that only five alleged non-citizens have voted in Sedgwick County, the second most populous Kansas county, over the last two decades. Those alleged non-citizen voters cast collectively about 10-12 votes, the earliest in 2004, testimony revealed. According to the challengers in the case, thatís out of 1.3 million votes cast in the relevant time period in the county. Sedgwick County accounts for a little over one sixth of Kansasí population.

But Kobach continues to try to support his law, despite proof that it is both unnecessary†to protect against voter fraud and could potentially blocks thousands of legal voters from casting ballots. Testifying in favor of Kobach’s restriction is Hans von Spakovsky, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a supporter of the idea that being born in the U.S. is not enough to grant citizenship — at least one parent must be a citizen, first.

The Kansas City Star reports:

Von Spakovsky testified that even a small number of non-citizens on voter rolls “could make the difference in a race that’s decided by a small number of votes,” but during cross-examination acknowledged that he could not name a specific federal election that was decided by non-citizen votes.

The specter of voter fraud creates a natural boogeyman that allows the GOP to paint “others” — mostly minorities and immigrants — as thwarting the system and somehow stealing the power from “good” voters. Kobach and his ilk appear utterly unaware of the burdens they put on the legal right to vote for those who are eligible but lack the proper documentation, as he made quite clear during testimony.

Bloomberg reports:

A witness in the case Tuesday described bureaucratic hurdles and snafus that plagued his efforts to vote after he moved from Chicago to Wichita in 2014.†Kobach asked the witness, Charles Stricker, why he couldnít just take his birth certificate to the local election office during his lunch hour and thereby comply with the law. That must have seemed a natural sort of question for Kobach, whose job appears to impose few, if any, actual requirements. But Stricker, who works at a hotel, said that he frequently works 12-hour days and eats lunch at his desk.

As Kobach’s disastrous proof of citizenship trial continues, it’s very likely that he will still garner one victory — raising his profile for his upcoming run for governor of Kansas. As for successfully defending his law — or even proving “voter fraud” is more than just a random, one in a 300,000 vote mistake — well, that’s simply never going to happen.

Photo Credit: Denise Cross Photography/Flickr

66 comments

Joan E
Joan E2 months ago

Republican ideas are not what people are looking for, as they only help the rich and keep the rest of us in perpetual struggle. The only way Republicans win elections is the same way Putin just won his election -- by cheating. Putin stuffed ballot boxes and didn't allow his opponent to run. Trump, Kobach and their evil ilk gerrymander, depress the Democratic vote by making unfair rules, and it sure looks like Trump and his nasty crew allowed Putin and the rest of the Russian criminals and despots to finish the job of making American elections unjust.

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld3 months ago

Annabel,
That is one of my favorite quotes, whether or not you got it exact. Thanks.

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Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bedini3 months ago

Dan B
Yes, thanks for explaining, you have made yourself clear! The problem with the British first-past-the-post direct-representation electoral system is that the candidate who wins the seat is almost never the one who won the most votes in any constituency. Say the Conservative candidate wins 100 votes, Labour wins 80, the Liberal Democrats win 40 and UKIP wins 25. The majority of people have not voted for the Conservatives but they win the seat. So the majority is always relative. But with proportional representation you amost never get a clear majority of any one party so governments end up as coalitions, which doesn't work too well either.
As Churchill is reputed to have said, Democracy is the worst possible political system with the exception of all others (I may have misquoted slightly but that's the meaning).

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld3 months ago

Annabel,
By majority, I meant over of 50% of the votes cast. Clinton received 48.1%, compared to 46.0% for Trump. Other candidates received the remaining 6%. Only once has a candidate received more than 50% of the official vote and lost. That was the disputed 1876 election, in which multiple sets of votes were submitted from some Southern states. The final outcome was more of a political compromise than an actual victory. In addition to that election, there were seven other elections in which the losing candidate received a higher percentage of the popular vote than Clinton. Some lost by an even greater number of electoral votes. Whenever one candidate receives a plurality of the vote (like Clinton in 2016), and the election is very close, victory is not assured. That is what I meant by "these types of cases." Another classic is the U.K. parliamentary election,in which Churchill resumed his position as prime minister. The Labour party received 48.8% of the total to the Conservative party's 48.0%. However, the Conservative won 321 seats (a majority) to the Labour's 295, with other parties won the remaining 18 seats. With a majority of the seats won, not the majority of the popular vote, the Conservatives (and Churcill) returned to power. Have I made myself a little clearer? (hopefully)

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Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bedini3 months ago

Dan B
In reality in the UK voters are choosing the candidate they prefer in their own constituency. It can happen that life-long Conservative supporters will choose a Labour candidate, and vice versa, because that candidate has proved to be good for the constituency. So yes, you vote for a party but above all for a candidate. And the Prime Minister does not have the powers of an American-style president. No unilateral decision-making, no executive orders, no finger on the nuclear button. Prime Ministers work with their cabinets to come up with agreed policies.

I am surprised you say ' This was one of the few elections in the U.S. in which no candidate received a majority of the votes.' errrr..... didn't Hillary Clinton win by a majority of 3 million votes? Or are you claiming this is Fake News? Or am I not understanding what you are trying to say (it is not clear to me what you mean by 'these types of cases' refering to the U.S. U.K, Canada and elswhere)?

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld3 months ago

Annabel,
It is not the registration process, that seems fair. However, there are those who claim that showing identification at the polls amounts to suppression. I think we agree that this would seem fair and reasonable.

True, the UK does not have a president, per se, but the prime minister acts accordingly. I understand that they are voting for a party, more than a person, but the result in that the head of the party serves as the leader of the country. This was one of the few elections in the U.S. in which no candidate received a majority of the votes. It is just these types of cases (in the U.S., U.K, Canada, and elsewhere) where this outcome can occur. Everyone political system has its quirks. This happens to be ours.

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Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bedini3 months ago

Dan B
I don't understand how a fair registration process can be called 'suppression'.

As I said, no country is perfect. In fact in the UK, with its direct representation system, the government is almost never elected by the majority of the population counted singly. But electing the member of parliament to represent your electoral district is different from electing a president of the whole nation. The UK has never had a president so there's no comparison.

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld3 months ago

Annabel,
I support that registration process. It seems quite reasonable to me, however some here would call it suppression.

I had the chance to do a little research concerning winning parties receiving fewer votes. It happened thrice in the U.K., 1974, 1951, and 1929.

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Susan T
Susan T3 months ago

When, 30 years ago, SCOTUS ruled on gerrymandering, it was to end a practice of spreading minority voters out in multiple districts, insuring no chance of victory for a candidate favored by most minority voters (unless a majority of the white population favored that candidate too.) Well surprise, America has a much higher population of people of color these days, so things have changed. More recently it's been used by both parties to gain a power advantage. The solution is to have a bipartisan panel of non-politicians drawing up the districts. It can be done fairly http://www.wral.com/group-shows-way-to-drawing-voting-districts-without-partisan-considerations/15970963/
HOWEVER - this has NOTHING to do with Kobach. He claims 18,000 non-citizens "could be" on the voting rolls. Since when has "could be" been a basis for the rule of law? WTF is he basing this conclusion on? The Tooth Fairy told him?? How about PROOF??!!! If he found 18,000 non-citizens on the voting rolls, why didn't he have them arrested (& subsequently convicted) when they walked out of the voting booth? Why? - bec this is a load of BULL!!! It's a way to keep mostly people of color, CITIZENS with the right to vote, out of the voting booth. Crosscheck is notoriously sloppy, inefficient & inaccurate - just the way Kobach wants it.

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Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bedini3 months ago

Dan B
Well, to answer your question Who is? of course no country is perfect but in other Western countries it works more or less as Pat B suggests. If you are registered as a legal resident in an area, you are automatically put on to the electoral roll. You are issued with a voter's card. At election time all you need to do is turn up with your voter's card and some proof of identity – driving licence, identity card, national health card, student card, passport and so on. Your name is checked on the electoral roll and you vote. If you have no legal right to vote you will not be on the electoral roll and will not be able to vote. Not that complicated surely?

As for the popular vote, you say it has only happened significantly in this past election, but I say even once is too many. Three million votes more in favour of a candidate who is then judged to have lost the election is a contradiction of The Will of the People. The historic reason for the present system is ridiculously out of date. No other democratic country would put up with it.

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