A bill that takes away local control of voter fraud prosecutions and allows people who violate state voting laws out of confusion or a simple misunderstanding to be convicted of a felony and sentenced to jail is now on its way to Gov. Sam Brownback’s desk. The measure, which already had been approved by the Senate, passed the House on a narrow 67-55 vote on Thursday. A key provision of the bill would give the Kansas secretary of state authority to prosecute voter fraud cases, something that has been advocated by Secretary of State Kris Kobach for several years.
The power to prosecute those cases now lies with county and district attorneys. The new law would allow voter fraud cases to be prosecuted by local prosecutors, the secretary of state or the Kansas attorney general, meaning that a case that a local prosecutor decided shouldn’t be pursued still could be taken up by one of the state officials.
Giving that power to the state attorney general could make some sense, but giving it to the secretary of state is a highly questionable and unusual move. While it’s appropriate for the secretary of state’s office to identify alleged cases of voter fraud, the decision whether to pursue those cases should be up to the state and local prosecutors who have been elected specifically to make such decisions. Giving prosecutorial power to the secretary of state also suggests that office will have to maintain additional legal staff — at additional taxpayer expense — to pursue those prosecutions.
Full Article: Editorial: Voter hammer / LJWorld.com.