Government & Politics

His own witness doesn’t back Kobach claims that illegal votes cost Trump popular vote

Kris Kobach: Trump's false claim about millions voting illegally is 'absolutely correct'

The Kansas Secretary of State is a vocal supporter of the president-elect. This video was published November 30, 2016.
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The Kansas Secretary of State is a vocal supporter of the president-elect. This video was published November 30, 2016.

One of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s witnesses testified Tuesday in federal court that his research does not support Kobach’s previous claims that millions of illegal votes cost President Donald Trump the popular vote.

Kobach, a candidate for governor, has relied for several years on research by Jesse Richman, a political scientist at Old Dominion University, to support his claims about non-citizen voting, including in 2016 when he cited the research in support of Trump’s claims that illegal votes cost him the popular vote in the presidential election.

Kobach used Richman as a witness Tuesday as he defends against a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union challenging a Kansas law that requires voters to provide proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or passport, to register to vote.

It was the sixth day of testimony in the trial in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan. Kobach is seeking the GOP nomination for governor.

The ACLU showed in court a video from The Kansas City Star of Kobach talking to reporters about Trump’s claims of illegal votes on the same day he certified 2016 election results in Kansas.

“I think the president-elect is absolutely correct when he says the number of illegal votes cast exceeds the popular vote margin between him and Hillary Clinton at this point,” Kobach said at the time.

Kobach cited a highly disputed study from Richman based on 2014 voter data and asserted that self-reported noncitizens vote at a rate of 11.3 percent.

“If we apply that number to the current presidential election … you’d have 3.2 million aliens voted in the presidential election, and that far exceeds the current popular vote margin between President-elect Trump and Secretary Clinton,” Kobach said in 2016.

Richman testified in court that his study doesn’t actually support Kobach’s conclusions and that he isn’t aware of any studies that do, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Richman’s study, which many scholars say overestimates the rate of non-citizens voters, actually estimated that non-citizens vote at a rate of 6.4 percent, a little more than half of what Kobach asserted in 2016.

In addition, Richman testified that some non-citizens would have voted for Trump, not necessarily Democrat Hillary Clinton, according to the Capital-Journal.

Stephen Ansolabehere, a Harvard professor who developed the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, the data that Richman relied on his for his study, testified later in the day that the raw data inflates the rate of non-citizens voting partly because people who are actually citizens accidentally mark the box for non-citizens.

Richman has estimated that roughly 18,000 non-citizens are registered to vote in Kansas based on a review of temporary driver’s licenses and voter rolls.

The ACLU grilled Richman about his methodology to produce these estimates, which included flagging foreign-sounding names.

Dale Ho, an attorney for the ACLU, asked Richman if we would have flagged the name “Carlos Murguia” as a foreign-sounding name, according to the Capital-Journal.

Yes, Richman answered.

Ho informed him that Murguia is a federal judge whose courtroom is located in the same courthouse as the trial.

The trial will resume and likely conclude Monday.