Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach claimed Tuesday night to be a national leader in voter security by championing adoption of laws requiring proof of citizenship to register, photograph identification to cast a ballot and mail-in ballot restrictions. Lawyer Mark Johnson, sitting to Kobach’s right at the Dole Institute of Politics, said the Republican secretary of state was a central advocate for reform of voting law, undoubtedly popular, that ought to be declared unconstitutional for serving as a deterrent to participation in elections. With the legal adversaries eager to joust, the point-counterpoint on U.S. election law was set in motion during a Constitution Day program inspired by allegations of voter suppression and claims of newfound election integrity. “
… “The level of popular approval of these laws, I would assert, is irrelevant,” said Johnson, an adjunct professor of law at the University of Kansas. “What is important is whether these laws are constitutional. That’s why we have a judiciary that has to make unpopular decisions.”
“Anytime you create a hurdle, no matter how low, you lose people,” he said. “Is it a half of a percent? One percent? It adds up.”
Johnson said federal court decisions this year on challenges to voter ID laws in Wisconsin, Texas and North Carolina exposed a disproportionate impact on minority people who most commonly vote for Democrats. Kobach, a former chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, possesses scant evidence of past voter fraud to justify intrusion into the electoral process on such a massive scale, he said.