The Kansas Court of Appeals on Wednesday rejected Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s request for a new hearing to decide whether a grand jury should be called to investigate his office for allegedly mishandling voter registrations. But Kobach’s office has already asked the Kansas Supreme Court to review the matter, a motion that could postpone any action in the matter until after the Aug. 7 primary election, in which Kobach is seeking the Republican nomination for governor. Steven X. Davis, a Democratic candidate running for the 45th District House seat in Douglas County, filed petitions last year seeking to call a citizen-initiated grand jury, which is allowed under Kansas law. Davis has alleged that Kobach, or others in the office, engaged in “destroying, obstructing, or failing to deliver online voter registration,” as well as possessing falsely made or altered registration books, preventing qualified electors from voting and “being grossly neglectful with respect to their election duties.”
Kobach has called those allegations “patently false,” and Bryan Caskey, who heads the elections division in Kobach’s office, has said the allegations concerned a brief period in 2016 when online voter registration systems were malfunctioning, but that officials at the state and county levels worked quickly to resolve the problem so the affected voters could cast their ballots.
The Douglas County District Court initially rejected the petitions, saying Davis had not provided specific allegations that, if true, would justify criminal charges. But the Court of Appeals reversed that decision on June 8, saying the statute in question requires a petitioner to state only general allegations.
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