A conservative firebrand promoting President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud oversees a Kansas election system that threw out at least three times as many ballots as any similarly sized state did, fueling concerns about massive voter suppression should its practices become the national standard. Only six states – all among the top 10 in population – discarded more votes during the 2016 election than the 33rd-largest state of Kansas, according to data collected by the bipartisan U.S. Election Assistance Commission, a federal agency that certifies voting systems. Kansas’ 13,717 rejected ballots even topped the 13,461 from Florida, which has about seven times as many residents. Critics of Kansas’ election system argue its unusually high number of discarded ballots reflects policies shaped over several elections that have resulted in many legitimate voters being kept off voter rolls in an effort to crack down on a few illegitimate ones.
There is particular attention on Kansas now because its secretary of state, Kris Kobach, is co-chairman of Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The architect of strict election policies requiring voter ID and proof of citizenship, Kobach has suggested Kansas’ rules could become a national panacea for voter fraud, which Trump – without providing proof – blames for Hillary Clinton’s popular vote victory.
“It is somewhat ironic that (Kobach) is claiming to really care about the integrity of voter rolls when this suggests that there may be a real problem that Kansas has with keeping voter rolls up to date,” said Wendy Weiser, director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program.