Kris Kobach recently and clumsily unveiled a new way to complete one’s voter registration in Kansas: Sue the secretary of state.
In another questionable move when it comes to voters’ rights, Kobach’s office stepped in to register two Douglas County men who had filed legal action against him earlier this year.
The two citizens have challenged the legality of Kobach’s bid to purge them and others from Kansas’ suspended voters list, which once included 36,000 names.
Don’t misconstrue Kobach’s actions as a conciliatory move. They are clearly intended to head off a judge’s ruling that could topple one of the secretary of state’s signature efforts to make voting more difficult in Kansas.
Kobach has filed a motion asking a federal court to dismiss the lawsuit brought by the two men whom he just registered, arguing that they have no legal standing anymore because they “suffer no current injury.”
Will Lawrence, an attorney for the men, aptly summed things up this way: “Obviously we are happy that our two clients are registered to vote, but it’s more than these two individuals who are being affected. If Kobach can just go in and get this done, why not do this for everyone?”
Good question. If the Republican secretary of state is so intent on making sure people eligible to vote can do so, why can’t his office work a little harder to get as many people as possible off the suspended voters list?
Sadly, Kobach’s demagoguery on this issue makes it appear he would be happy if his threats and bullying kept certain people — especially students, minorities, low-income citizens and Democrats — out of the voting booth.
Kobach helped create the suspended voters list that contains the names of people who couldn’t register to vote because they didn’t have all the paperwork the state required, especially proof of citizenship such as with a birth certificate or passport.
That conflicts with federal law, which requires states to make registration forms available at motor vehicle offices. Those forms don’t require the proof of citizenship.
Elected officials should not be trying to make voting more difficult for citizens. Kobach has tried to justify his actions by pointing to the possibility of voter fraud occurring in the state.
However, he has been unable to document many cases despite months of looking for them. And that’s despite his new powers, provided by the Republican-controlled Legislature, to prosecute voter fraud.
The legal system needs to rein in the abuse Kobach is trying to inflict on voter registration in Kansas. The judge should not dismiss the most recent case. Instead, it needs to serve as an example of how Kobach’s attempt to manipulate voters’ right will not be allowed to succeed.