Kansas has lots of great products to export, but Kris Kobach’s mistaken ideas about voter fraud are not among them. So we’re dismayed, though hardly surprised, to see that the Kansas secretary of state will be vice chair of President Donald Trump’s incorrectly labeled “Commission on Election Integrity.”
Already, Kobach’s baseless declarations about voter fraud have been cited by Team Trump to bolster the president’s own based-on-air claims. Now, he will be second only to Vice President Mike Pence, whom we hope is busy running the country, on a 12-person commission Trump just created with an executive order to review improper registrations and voting, fraudulent registrations and voter suppression.
Since the non-problem of in-person voter fraud — Kobach has convicted all of nine Kansans of this crime — is inflated to push through laws that disenfranchise, this whole commission isn’t just unnecessary but wrong.
Kobach insists that this effort wasn’t launched to prove that voter fraud is sweeping the nation: “The commission does not begin with foregone conclusions. … The objective is to go where the facts lead us.”
But civil rights leaders immediately objected to what seems to us, too, like an old-fashioned attempt to keep minority voters away from the polls. Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement that “as President Trump’s own lawyers have said, ‘All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake.’ This commission, to be co-led by King of Voter Suppression Kris Kobach, is a sham. … The United States has one of the lowest turnout rates in the developed world, and we should be doing everything we can to encourage more people, not fewer, to participate in our democracy.”
Thanks in no small part to Kobach, Kansas has some of the most restrictive voting laws in the country. He has been advising Trump, who right after his election claimed that he lost the popular vote because millions of undocumented immigrants voted illegally. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, or for that matter, anything more than the case here and there that Kobach has been able to prosecute.
We agree with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who earlier this year responded to Trump’s claim this way: “There’s no evidence that it occurred in such a significant number that would have changed the presidential election, and I don’t think we ought to spend any federal money investigating that.” And just as it would be tragic to make the tax cuts that have done so much damage in Kansas the basis for national policy, so too should this imagined scourge be debunked instead of emulated.