Last week, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed (“The Case for Voter ID”) by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. In the piece, Kobach touts restrictive voter ID bills, including the Kansas “Secure and Fair Elections Act,” which he drafted and Governor Sam Brownback signed into law a few weeks ago. Kobach argues that (1) voter ID laws will not actually prevent any eligible citizens from voting; and (2) they will prevent in-person voter fraud, which he claims is a substantial problem.
But his arguments are built on inaccuracies, unsupported allegations, and flawed reasoning. Because Kobach takes direct aim at the Brennan Center in this op-ed, we thought a thorough review of his claims was in order. We sent a letter to the editors at the Journal rebutting some of his claims, but the paper did not publish it.
Claim 1: Kobach wrongly takes issue with a 2006 Brennan Center study showing 11% of American citizens do not possess government issued photo ID.
In 2006, the Brennan Center published the results of a telephone survey conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation (ORC), an independent market research firm, on the number of voting-age Americans who have government-issued photo ID and proof of citizenship. 11% of all respondents to that survey did not have ready access to government-issued photo ID; the percentages of those without ID were even higher for certain demographic groups. Kobach summarily dismisses the hard numbers without offering any reason to doubt the Brennan Center and ORC findings, other than that he finds them “implausible.” ORC is a respected, global provider of market research, providing polling and research to CNN, among many other partners and clients. Mr. Kobach’s intuition is not a substitute for sound research.