If President Donald Trump wants a good gauge of how much voter fraud he will find if he launches a federal investigation, one of his campaign advisers, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, is a good person to ask. Kobach, you might remember, became a national hero among conservatives by championing restrictions on voting, with the avowed purpose of battling the scourge of voter fraud. During Trump’s presidential transition, he was photographed meeting Trump while holding a document listing plans to bar foreigners and deal with “criminal aliens.” Illegal immigration and voter fraud are intimately linked in conservative mythology, where dusky undocumented immigrants are forever handing election victories to Democrats by voting illegally. Kobach is a smart lawyer and a skillful salesman. “Voter fraud is a well-documented reality in American elections,” he wrote in the Wall Street Journal after becoming Kansas’s secretary of state in 2011.
In the essay, Kobach cited a 2010 state representative race in Kansas City, Missouri, that was “stolen” when one candidate allegedly received more than 50 votes illegally cast by Somali citizens. In his own state of Kansas, Kobach continued, 221 incidents of voter fraud were reported between 1997 and 2010. And even as a newbie in his office, he wrote, he had already found 67 aliens illegally registered to vote. The total number, he said, “will likely be in the hundreds.”
A stolen election. Hundreds of incidents of voter fraud. And 67 aliens. Kobach claimed he had the proof. Yet there were some nagging little words — alleged, reported. How was the allegation of illegal Somali votes resolved? According to the Kansas City Star, suits were filed claiming illegal voting by Somalis, but no proof could be found.
What about the 221 instances of reported voter fraud? As it happened, Kansans reported more sightings of UFOs between 1997 and 2010 than instances of voter fraud — people report all sorts of things — even though more than 10 million votes were cast in that period in statewide elections alone.