Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach got a tongue lashing Tuesday from the judge who will decide whether he violated federal law by blocking tens of thousands of voter applications. Federal Chief District Judge Julie Robinson, a George W. Bush appointee, accused Kobach of engaging in “gamesmanship” and skirting her orders. In the nearly two years since Robinson ordered him to register those voters, she said, he has forced her and the American Civil Liberties Union to monitor his actions down to the tiniest details in an effort to get him to comply. “I’ve had to police this over and over and over again,” she said.
The ACLU, who is representing Kansans suing Kobach, asked Robinson in September 2016 to hold Kobach in contempt for failing to comply with her May 2016 order to fully register would-be voters. Their applications lacked birth certificates or other documents Kobach demanded under a 2011 Kansas law.
A series of back-and-forths between Kobach, the ACLU and the judge since then have turned on what actions were needed to meet the court’s order. They centered on requiring Kobach to ensure the registrants would know they could vote, and that county election officers would know to treat them the same as other voters.
The ACLU argued Tuesday that Kobach didn’t follow through. Robinson will consider whether to hold him in contempt, while working on a ruling in this month’s trial against Kobach.