Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is asking a state appellate court for a new hearing to determine whether the Douglas County District Court should be required to summon a citizen-initiated grand jury to investigate allegations that his office has mishandled voter registration applications. Kobach filed the petition Friday, which was the deadline to ask for a rehearing in the case. Steven X. Davis, a Lawrence resident who is running as a Democrat for a seat in the Kansas House, had filed petitions in August 2017 calling for a grand jury to investigate general allegations that Kobach’s office had mismanaged the state’s voter registration system and had been “grossly neglectful with respect to their election duties.” Kansas is one of only six states that allows citizen-initiated grand juries.
The Douglas County court had initially rejected the petitions, saying Davis did not spell out adequately specific charges that should be investigated.
But on June 8, a three-judge panel of the Kansas Court of Appeals reversed that decision, saying Kansas statutes only require “general” allegations which, if true, would warrant a criminal indictment.
The case was unusual in several respects, including the fact that there was no second party who would have standing to appeal the decision to the Kansas Supreme Court. The case was titled “In the Matter of the Petition to Summon a Grand Jury Filed by Steven Davis,” and it involved only his appeal of a district court decision rejecting his petitions.