Government & Politics

Kobach once said voter fraud in primary was unclear. In victory, he dismisses it

As uncertainty loomed about the outcome of the GOP primary for governor in the days after the Aug. 7 primary, Kris Kobach said it was unclear how many non-citizens voted in the election.

Back then, the race was too close to call.

But now, a week after he secured a 350-vote victory over Gov. Jeff Colyer, Kobach is dismissing concerns that voter fraud could have changed the election’s outcome.

In an Aug. 21 Breitbart column, Kobach writes that his race against Colyer “was the closest in modern history in Kansas.”

But he maintains that “it is highly unlikely that voter fraud changed the outcome,” despite telling The Star during the weeklong post-election feud between him and Colyer when a winner was undecided that it was unclear how many “non-citizens” voted in the Republican primary.

In the column, Kobach uses Kansas as an example of why strict voting measures, such as voter ID and a proof-of-citizenship law, which he describes as being “on hold” in the state, help voters have faith in election results.

“Fortunately, Kansas has the most secure election laws in the country,” Kobach said.

The proof-of-citizenship law that Kobach describes as being on hold was actually struck down by a federal judge in June.

On Aug. 9, when the election was up in the air, Kobach pointed to that judge’s ruling as a concern over voter fraud in the state.

“It was established at trial that the judge’s preliminary injunction allowed multiple non-citizens to register in Kansas,” Kobach said in an email that day. “Her final order undoubtedly had the same effect, but we do not know how many of those non-citizens voted on August 7.”

Asked how the column squares with his earlier statement days after the election, Kobach said Wednesday in an email that the time frame between the judge’s decision and the primary election was key.

“The judge’s decision opened the window for non-citizens to register after her opinion; however, that window has only been open for a few months. It is unlikely that a decisive number of non-citizens were able to register illegally in that short time span,” Kobach said.

That argument was challenged by Dale Ho, the lead attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union legal team that defeated Kobach in the proof-of-citizenship case.

Ho noted that the judge had nullified the proof-of-citizenship requirement.

“It’s as if it never existed,” Ho said in an email. “Anyone who applied to register to vote without submitting (proof of citizenship) is registered to vote. If Kobach were correct that the law were truly instrumental in preventing noncitizens from registering in substantial numbers, then Kansas should be awash in noncitizen voting by now.

“It’s not — and that’s because there is not and never has been any real problem of noncitizen voting in Kansas.”

Kobach’s office confirmed after the ruling in the proof-of-citizenship case that more than 25,000 people on a suspended list became fully registered voters.

There is no evidence of voter fraud in this election, Ho said.

“Secretary Kobach — who infamously stated that he doesn’t know the true winner of the 2016 popular vote for president — is apparently confident about the integrity of an election only when he is the winner of that election,” Ho said in an email.

Kobach, who works as the state’s chief election official, has long claimed widespread voter fraud that he has been unable to definitively prove.

His claims have often been rebuked publicly, including in 2016 when he was reportedly a source of President Donald Trump’s incorrect claim that millions voting illegally cost him the popular vote in the presidential election.

Kobach also faced criticism last fall over his unproven claim that voter fraud changed the outcome of a key U.S. Senate election in New Hampshire.

The Star’s Bryan Lowry contributed to this story.