Kansas: Bill to give Kobach prosecutorial power receives early House approval in close vote | Topeka Capital-Journal

Secretary of State Kris Kobach would have new powers to prosecute election crimes under legislation given initial approval Wednesday in a razor-thin House vote. The House gave an early OK to Senate Bill 34 in a 63-57 vote. If the House now approves the bill in a final vote it will go to Gov. Sam Brownback. But the outcome of the final vote — which requires 63 votes — seems far from certain. Multiple Democrats voted in favor of the bill in a failed effort to use a procedural maneuver to later kill the bill. At least two Republicans who would likely vote in favor of the bill were absent. Kobach has sought the power to prosecute for some time. He fought his re-election campaign against Democrat Jean Schodorf portraying himself as tough on voter fraud. The bill also would upgrade penalties for several voting offenses to felonies from misdemeanors.

Kansas: Kobach defends suspended voter list; study shows 59 percent on list are eligible to vote | Topeka Capital-Journal

One percent of people on Kansas’ suspended voter registration list are verified noncitizens, an analysis provided to Secretary of State Kris Kobach shows. But more than half have no factors preventing verification of their voter eligibility. The data analysis, provided to the Secretary of State’s Office by the leader of a conservative group that champions tougher voter verification measures, found 41 percent of individuals on the list have one or more factors preventing Kansas from verifying their eligibility. The suspended voter registration list — which stands at 25,000 — proved a flashpoint in Kobach’s re-election race against Democrat Jean Schodorf. Individuals who register to vote but don’t submit proof of citizenship are placed on the list. Critics of the secretary and Kansas’ voting requirements say the list contains thousands of Kansans who should be able to vote. Kobach, who has devoted his time as secretary of state to championing policies he says are needed to combat voter fraud, has referenced the analysis while speaking to lawmakers — but also has declined to provide it to either them or the public. The Topeka Capital-Journal obtained the document through an open records request, however.

Kansas: Analysts: Decision to keep Taylor on ballot could hurt Kobach in his own race | The Wichita Eagle

Secretary of State Kris Kobach isn’t worried about potential political fallout from his decision to keep Democrat Chad Taylor on the ballot in the U.S. Senate races. Political scientists predict the move could damage Kobach in his own re-election race against Jean Schodorf, a Wichita Democrat. Kobach says he’s doing his duty of upholding the state’s election laws. “If someone is upset at me for enforcing the law as it is clearly written and they want to vote against me for that reason, that’s fine,” he said last week. “My job is to enforce the law, not make it up. In my view, my electoral consequences have to be set aside.” Taylor, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, submitted a letter to the Secretary of State’s Office to withdraw his name from the ballot, a move political observers said would benefit independent challenger Greg Orman in the race against longtime Sen. Pat Roberts.

Kansas: Democrat proposes changes in Kansas voting rules | Associated Press

Kansas would end strict enforcement of a proof-of-citizenship requirement for new voters under proposals outlined Tuesday by the presumed Democratic nominee for secretary of state. Democrat and former state Sen. Jean Schodorf outlined a plan for fixing what she called problems with the state’s voter registration system. But conservative Republican incumbent Kris Kobach said Schodorf is promising to ignore the proof-of-citizenship requirement if elected secretary of state, making the office “lawless.” Schodorf would allow prospective voters to cast ballots even if their registrations are on hold because they’ve not yet documented their citizenship for election officials. She also proposed that Kansas stop requiring proof of citizenship from new residents who’ve had valid voter registrations in other states and allow anyone using a national voter registration form to vote in all state and local elections — though the form doesn’t instruct voters to provide citizenship documents.