Kris Kobach

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Kansas: Elections director: Crosscheck last used in 2017, when audit found security risks | St. John News

State elections director Bryan Caskey told lawmakers Tuesday the controversial Interstate Crosscheck program hasn’t been used since 2017, when a Homeland Security audit discovered vulnerabilities, and won’t be used this year. The program is the subject of a class-action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of 945 voters whose partial Social Security numbers were exposed by Florida officials through an open records request. In an appearance before the House Elections Committee, Caskey said Secretary of State Scott Schwab has ordered a review of Crosscheck to determine whether to abandon the program all together. He also said the state could use $2 million in federal funds untouched by former Secretary Kris Kobach to gain access to an alternative. The initial cost for the Electronic Registration Information Center would be $25,000. Read More

Kansas: With Kris Kobach Out Of Office, His Voting Policies Could Wither In Kansas | KMUW

Former Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach rewrote the rules for voting in Kansas. Laws he pushed for required voters to show citizenship papers to register and ID at the polls. He secured prosecutorial powers for his office. Kobach’s term only ended a couple weeks ago, but some cornerstones of his legacy are already starting to crumble. A federal court knocked down the state’s voter registration rule last summer. Interstate Crosscheck, a voter records system that Kobach said could help states maintain their voter rolls and spot double voting, is currently on hold and could be abandoned. The new secretary of state wants to take the spotlight off the office. Republican Scott Schwab was sworn in on Jan. 14 and quickly backed one significant change. Read More

Kansas: State drops Kris Kobach’s appeal of contempt ruling, ACLU accepts $20,000 for legal fees | The Topeka Capital-Journal

The Kansas attorney general said Tuesday the state agreed to drop former Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s appeal of a federal court judge’s contempt order in exchange for the American Civil Liberties Union accepting only $20,000 for attorney fees and expenses. Attorney General Derek Schmidt said the negotiated deal reduced from $26,200 the state’s obligation to the ACLU. U.S. District Court Judge Julie Robinson had found Kobach in contempt of court while he was serving as secretary of state in Kansas. Robinson sanctioned Kobach for failure to comply with her instructions. Mediation involving ACLU lawyers and the attorney general’s office Jan. 25 also led to dismissal of Kobach’s appeal of the contempt ruling. It didn’t alter status of the state’s appeal of Robinson’s underlying election law decision, which found Kansas’ proof-of-citizenship statute unconstitutional. Read More

Kansas: With Kobach gone, bills target his legacy of prosecuting vote fraud | The Wichita Eagle

A big piece of Kris Kobach’s legacy appears to be on its way out as Kansas lawmakers move forward on parallel tracks to repeal the authority of the secretary of state to prosecute election crimes. The House Judiciary Committee is considering one bill to do that, introduced by Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita. The House Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice is considering a slightly different version requested by Attorney General Derek Schmidt last week. Either would revoke the authority the secretary of state now has to take people to court if they violate laws related to voting. Kobach, a lawyer, fought for years to get that authority when he served in the post, finally winning the battle in 2015. He was convinced that it held the key to stop what he believed was widespread fraudulent voting by illegal immigrants. Read More

Kansas: Kobach grand jury process to begin next week in Douglas County | Lawrence Journal-World

Grand jury proceedings to investigate former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office will begin next week in Douglas County District Court, according to the judge presiding over them. Judge Kay Huff said that the proceedings would begin in her courtroom on Jan. 22, a Tuesday, following Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Grand jury proceedings are closed to the public. Huff mentioned the grand jury during a hearing for a murder trial she had been scheduled to preside over this week, noting that the grand jury matter was a priority that could not be moved despite other proceedings in her courtroom. Read More

Editorials: Here’s how Kansas can reverse some of the damage Kris Kobach did as secretary of state | The Kansas City Star

Kansas has a great opportunity to undo some of the damage caused by Secretary of State Kris Kobach during his two terms in office. Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Scott Schwab, the incoming secretary of state, have taken the first step. They’ve announced a proposal to end the secretary of state’s ability to prosecute voter fraud cases. Instead, the responsibility would return to local prosecutors or the attorney general’s office. “It will be more efficient for our professional prosecutors to handle voter fraud cases … than for the secretary of state to maintain separate prosecution capacity,” Schmidt said in a statement. Well, yes. It was never efficient for Kobach to have the power to prosecute voter fraud. It was a stunt, designed to enhance Kobach’s national profile for political purposes. Happily, it was a failed experiment. Kobach’s office has filed a mere handful of voter cases, mostly against Kansans who improperly voted in multiple jurisdictions. We’re pretty sure Schmidt’s prosecutors will not be overburdened with work if lawmakers return enforcement powers to the right place. Read More

Kansas: State board rejects challenge to Kobach’s bid for governor | The Washington Post

An all-Republican state board on Monday rejected a liberal Kansas activist’s challenge to Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s listing as the GOP nominee for governor on the November ballot after he argued that hundreds of legal votes were not counted in the primary election. The State Objections Board concluded that Davis Hammet, of Topeka, could not show that Kobach’s narrow victory over Gov. Jeff Colyer in the GOP primary could be overturned by the issues Hammet raised. It also rejected Hammet’s argument that Kobach’s chief deputy should not have been involved in reviewing the challenge. Kobach defeated Colyer by 343 votes out of more than 317,000 cast. Colyer’s supporters initially raised some of the same questions Hammet did in his objection, but the governor conceded the race a week after the primary. “It is not merely that an objection has been made for one of the appropriate grounds. You also must present evidence that this election would be overturned,” said Assistant Secretary of State Eric Rucker, who presided over the board’s meeting. Read More

Kansas: Court rules for grand jury investigation of Kobach | Associated Press

A grand jury must be convened to investigate whether Republican gubernatorial candidate and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach intentionally failed to register voters in 2016, the Kansas Supreme Court has ruled. The court’s one-page opinion was released Friday and offered no explanation behind the ruling, which addressed Kobach’s appeal of a lower court’s order to summon the grand jury, the Lawrence Journal-World reported. The high court’s ruling stemmed from a petition first filed in 2016 by Steven Davis, a Lawrence resident who accused Kobach of intentionally choosing not to process online voter registrations and preventing qualified residents from voting in the 2016 election. The Douglas County District Court twice rejected Davis’ petition, saying there wasn’t enough evidence to support the allegations against Kobach. Read More

Kansas: Kobach said voter fraud in primary was unclear. Then he won | The Kansas City Star

As uncertainty loomed about the outcome of the GOP primary for governor in the days after the Aug. 7 primary, Kris Kobach said it was unclear how many non-citizens voted in the election. Back then, the race was too close to call. But now, a week after he secured a 350-vote victory over Gov. Jeff Colyer, Kobach is dismissing concerns that voter fraud could have changed the election’s outcome. In an Aug. 21 Breitbart column, Kobach writes that his race against Colyer “was the closest in modern history in Kansas.” But he maintains that “it is highly unlikely that voter fraud changed the outcome,” despite telling The Star during the weeklong post-election feud between him and Colyer when a winner was undecided that it was unclear how many “non-citizens” voted in the Republican primary. Read More

Kansas: Local officials wield power as Colyer vs. Kobach undecided | The Kansas City Star

Local officials spread across Kansas’ 105 counties will exercise an incredible amount of power this week when they determine whether thousands of ballots should count in the closest primary race for governor in Kansas history. The roughly 9,000 provisional ballots, awaiting rulings from county officials across the state, will likely decide whether Gov. Jeff Colyer or Secretary of State Kris Kobach emerges as the GOP’s standard-bearer in the fall. More than 40 percent of the provisional ballots were cast in the state’s two most populous counties, Johnson and Sedgwick. The ballots have the power to swing the Kansas race in Colyer’s favor or solidify a victory for Kobach. Kobach’s role as the state’s chief election official has heightened the scrutiny of the vote-counting process in the contentious race. After a backlash this week, Kobach announced Friday that Assistant Secretary of State Eric Rucker will oversee the process in his stead. Read More