If you want to understand President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission, it helps to study what happened in Kansas. Six years before Trump was tweeting about stolen elections and unsubstantiated claims of millions of fraudulent votes, Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, was promoting the idea that widespread voter fraud threatens the integrity of our electoral system. It should come as no surprise that Trump chose Kobach to be the vice chairman of Vice President Mike Pence’s new Commission on Election Integrity. This appointment gives Kobach a national platform by which to pursue his agenda. Kansas’ voter ID law went into effect when I was a graduate student at the University of Kansas. The pervasive campaign promoting the new law piqued my interest. My co-author and I set out to assess the impact advertisements – specifically, the “Got ID?” campaign – had on voter turnout during the 2012 election.
Although voter ID laws are nothing new, Kobach has succeeded in making them more popular. Kobach personally drafted the Kansas Secure and Fair Elections Act (SAFE Act), which was signed into law in 2011. He also played an integral role in the proliferation of derivative voter ID laws, advocating for them at national conferences and on his radio show.
Republican Party leaders supported voter ID laws in their 2012 party platform, declaring “we applaud legislation to require photo identification for voting and to prevent election fraud … Voter fraud is political poison. It strikes at the heart of representative government.” In 2016, the party expanded their support of voter ID laws to back legislation requiring proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. These efforts have spread; 34 states now require voters to show some form of identification prior to voting.
While Kansas was not the first state to pass a voter ID law – that was South Carolina in 1950 – it was and remains one of the most restrictive and comprehensive laws of its kind. The SAFE Act requires voters to 1) present photo IDs prior to casting a ballot, 2) present a full driver’s license number and have their signatures verified in order to absentee vote and 3) provide proof of citizenship to register to vote.
Full Article: Kris Kobach and Kansas’ SAFE Act.