Editorials

Kris Kobach just got schooled. Have Kansas voters had enough of his stunts yet?

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in Douglas County.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in Douglas County. File photo

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach just got schooled, in a literal sense, by the federal judge who struck down the unconstitutional state law he’s loved and now, as even he expected, has lost.

Judge Julie Robinson ruled that the 2011 law, which was both written by and defended in court by Kobach, a Republican candidate for governor, “disproportionately impacts duly qualified registration applicants, while only nominally preventing non-citizen voter registration.”

Since the law requiring Kansans registering to vote to show proof of citizenship went into effect in 2013, it’s disenfranchised some 35,000 legitimate voters and uncovered just a few cases of potential voter fraud.

Even as the country’s one secretary of state with the ability to prosecute such cases, Kobach located only 43 non-citizens out of 1.8 million Kansas voters who had registered to vote in the state since 1999. Just 11 of those actually cast a ballot, and Robinson found those were “largely explained by administrative error, confusion, or mistake.” What Kobach still sees as “the tip of an iceberg” of massive voter fraud, she concluded was “only an icicle.”

President Donald Trump’s former voter-fraud adviser never should have tried to represent his own baby in court. He seemed like an amateur and was repeatedly called out for such stunts as trying to introduce evidence Robinson had already ruled inadmissible.

“We’re not going to have a trial by ambush here,’’ the judge told him. “That’s not how trials are conducted.” In April, she found him in contempt for ignoring her direct order to let thousands of Kansans know that they were in fact registered to vote in 2016. Who needs Russians sowing chaos when Kobach is available?

Now, Robinson has sentenced the secretary of state to a kind of legal summer school in the form of a six-hour, continuing ed course on federal or Kansas civil rules of procedure or evidence.

The Harvard, Oxford and Yale Law grad surely knows better but loves to come off as an anti-elitist cowboy as he wastes his state’s time and money chasing non-existent bad guys.

As unsurprising as the ruling itself was the announcement that Kobach will appeal the case, which was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2016.

Cheerful in defeat, as long as he can continue to show voters he’s still fighting on his signature issue, he’ll get to tangle with the ACLU again over the lawsuit the organization filed against him on Tuesday. It alleges that by using Crosscheck, a program that searches for duplicate voter registrations, Kobach violated the privacy of about 1,000 Kansas voters. Their partial Social Security numbers were released by the state of Florida after Kobach’s office turned over their data through Crosscheck, which the ACLU says “yields false positive results in 99.5 percent of cases.”

“In his zeal to make citizen participation in elections in Kansas as hard as possible,” said Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Kansas, “Secretary Kobach has chosen to put that ideological obsession over common sense and indeed above the rule of law.”

Unbridled zeal is what he’s running on. And if ideological obsession is what Kansas Republicans want, Gov. Jeff Colyer and Kobach’s other GOP rivals don’t stand a chance in their party’s August primary.

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