We’d like to credit Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach for cracking down on voter fraud… but we can’t. True, since he took office in 2010, there’s been hardly a stir of voter fraud. Then again, it was rare before he took office, though he would have Kansans believe otherwise.
Still, he apparently has convinced the Kansas Senate that voter fraud is enough of a problem that it’s willing to give his office the authority to prosecute cases. The Senate on Thursday approved the measure 31-9 and sent it to the House for consideration.
Senators did add a provision in a 23-17 vote that would prohibit Secretary Kobach from operating a political action committee. Senators sensed that it is inappropriate for the state’s chief elections officer to have a PAC to help candidates of his choosing. Secretary Kobach had formed the Prairie Fire PAC in 2012, in part to help GOP state Senate candidates. The Senate amendment apparently doesn’t trouble him, however; he thinks that would be ruled unconstitutional if it remains in the bill. Not only does he believe that such a provision would violate his free speech rights, but allowing other public officials such as the governor to operate a PAC while banning him from having one would be discriminatory.
Secretary Kobach could well be right about his PAC’s legality, but that shouldn’t prevent him from recognizing that it is inappropriate. He should shut it down voluntarily.
As for his office acquiring the authority to prosecute voter fraud cases, it’s not necessary. He thinks otherwise, telling the Associated Press, “I’m pleased that the Senate intends to get serious about the prosecution of election crimes.”
He contends that he needs the authority because voter fraud cases don’t rise to the level of priority for federal, state or local prosecutors, who keep busy prosecuting violent crimes.
What Secretary Kobach doesn’t say is that a big reason federal, state and local prosecutors don’t regularly pursue voter fraud cases is because those cases are few and far between. Despite Secretary Kobach’s assertions, voter fraud is not a serious problem in this state. If it were, we’re confident it would be aggressively prosecuted.
We hope the House sees Secretary Kobach’s bid for greater authority as unwarranted and rejects the proposal.