Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) is now officially running for senate after a failed 2018 gubernatorial bid.
He began his campaign by misspelling his own first name on his official FEC paperwork. The Kobach campaign spelled the candidate’s name “Chris Kobach,” rather than Kris Kobach. The error was changed an hour later in a separate filing.
As podcaster @Ugarles noted in a tweet, this is the type of mistake, that, had it happened on a Kansas voter registration document under Kobach’s tenure as Secretary of State, would have disqualified someone from voting in a Kansas election.
this is the kind of mistake that kris kobach would use to throw out a voter registration https://t.co/6arvKwbTAQ
— Sigh Hersh (still a yianni d. fan) (@Ugarles) July 8, 2019
As Kansas’ Secretary of State, Kris Kobach famously chaired President Trump’s ill-fated commission to address the non-existent specter of “voter fraud” in 2017 before it was ultimately disbanded without ever finding any evidence of alleged voter fraud. Trump put the commission together, with Kris Kobach as one of the co-chairs, in hopes that it would prove his claim that millions of votes were illegally cast in the 2016 presidential election. The commission nevertheless requested — and received — voter registration information from mostly Republican Secretaries of State, and found ways to hamper citizens’ right to vote with the controversial cross-check program.
As The Washington Post reported in December of 2016, there were only four cases of actual voter fraud out of roughly 135 million ballots cast nationwide. And between 2000 and 2014, Loyola-Los Angeles law school professor Justin Levitt found just 31 credible cases of voter fraud out of more than one billion ballots cast. This suggests that the Republican-led crusade to snuff out “voter fraud” — which is often justified by restrictions on voting — is not based on any hard data proving that voter fraud is actually a problem.
The lack of any real voter fraud didn’t stop Kobach from pursuing draconian limitations on who could vote in Kansas while he was serving as the state’s election overseer. The most high-profile case was Kobach’s office demanding voters prove their citizenship before they could register to vote. That policy was eventually overturned by a federal judge. And when Kobach refused to honor it, he was held in contempt.
However, that wasn’t the first time Kris Kobach lost a court case. According to a ProPublica investigation, Kobach’s numerous attempts to make life harder for immigrants were stopped by court challenges on multiple occasions. Prior to his 2010 campaign for Secretary of State, Kobach — then a law professor — helped small, mostly white towns around Kansas pass ordinances making English the official language, force undocumented immigrants to leave, and punishing employers who hired undocumented immigrants and landlords who rented to them. Those ordinances were eventually overturned after lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Kris Kobach’s 2020 Senate campaign would be for the open seat vacated by Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), who is retiring.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.