Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach started drawing the ire of statewide voting rights advocates years before he was appointed to President Donald Trump’s election integrity commission and continued his work on voter fraud at the commission’s first meeting this week. The controversial champion of strict voting laws long has been known for his claims of voting fraud and landed a national position under Trump, who has repeatedly claimed without evidence that illegal votes for former opponent Hillary Clinton cost him the popular vote last fall, though he won the Electoral College. Now, on a national stage, Kobach is hoping to study the election system and supposed voter fraud through the commission, which met for the first time Wednesday.
Both Kobach and Trump said Wednesday that the commission’s job was to thoroughly study the electoral system without preconceived notions, but they alluded to claims of voter fraud in their comments. Trump said the commission would approach the research with a “very open mind and with no conclusions already drawn.”
At the meeting, which came amid a swarm of controversy and lawsuits over the commission’s work, Kobach said millions of people could be registered to vote in two places, that 18,000 people are projected to be illegally registered in Kansas and that his office has identified 128 cases of non-citizens attempting to register to vote. Since he gained the ability to prosecute illegal votes in 2015, though, his office has obtained just nine convictions. Voting rights advocates in his home state dispute his claims.