One of Republican President Donald Trump’s first actions when he was sworn into office was to commit to a full investigation of the country’s voter integrity. The goal was two-fold: find proof of “voter fraud” to appease the far right, and to bolster the president’s preposterous claim that he likely would have won the popular vote, as well as the electoral college, if only “millions of illegal immigrants” hadn’t voted for Hillary Clinton.
Heading up the so-called investigation was Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the creator of a Kansas law demanding proof of citizenship in order to cast ballots — a law challenged by the ACLU. Now, a year later, Kobach is being forced to admit that his quest for the illusive voter fraud epidemic has come to nothing.
The legal battle over Kobach’s proof of citizenship requirement hit the courts in early March, with Kobach inadvertently providing ample evidence that voter fraud is practically non-existent. “The ACLU says the state’s proof-of-citizenship law prevented more than 30,000 eligible Kansans from casting votes. Kobach says the law is needed to prevent noncitizens from interfering in elections, estimating as many as 18,000 are illegally on Kansas voter rolls,” The Topeka Capital-Journal reports.
But when it came to actually following up on illegally cast ballots, that 18,000 voters dwindled quickly down to 5. According to Talking Points Memo:
A spreadsheet created by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office became a focal point in the trial over Kansas’ voter registration proof-of-citizenship requirement. The spreadsheet shows that only five alleged non-citizens have voted in Sedgwick County, the second most populous Kansas county, over the last two decades. Those alleged non-citizen voters cast collectively about 10-12 votes, the earliest in 2004, testimony revealed. According to the challengers in the case, that’s out of 1.3 million votes cast in the relevant time period in the county. Sedgwick County accounts for a little over one sixth of Kansas’ population.
But Kobach continues to try to support his law, despite proof that it is both unnecessary to protect against voter fraud and could potentially blocks thousands of legal voters from casting ballots. Testifying in favor of Kobach’s restriction is Hans von Spakovsky, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a supporter of the idea that being born in the US is not enough to grant citizenship — at least one parent must be a citizen, first.
Von Spakovsky testified that even a small number of non-citizens on voter rolls “could make the difference in a race that’s decided by a small number of votes,” but during cross-examination acknowledged that he could not name a specific federal election that was decided by non-citizen votes.
The specter of voter fraud creates a natural boogeyman that allows the GOP to paint “others” — mostly minorities and immigrants — as thwarting the system and somehow stealing the power from “good” voters. Kobach and his ilk appear utterly unaware of the burdens they put on the legal right to vote for those who are eligible but lack the proper documentation, as he made quite clear during testimony.
A witness in the case Tuesday described bureaucratic hurdles and snafus that plagued his efforts to vote after he moved from Chicago to Wichita in 2014. Kobach asked the witness, Charles Stricker, why he couldn’t just take his birth certificate to the local election office during his lunch hour and thereby comply with the law. That must have seemed a natural sort of question for Kobach, whose job appears to impose few, if any, actual requirements. But Stricker, who works at a hotel, said that he frequently works 12-hour days and eats lunch at his desk.
As Kobach’s disastrous proof of citizenship trial continues, it’s very likely that he will still garner one victory — raising his profile for his upcoming run for governor of Kansas. As for successfully defending his law — or even proving “voter fraud” is more than just a random, one in a 300,000 vote mistake — well, that’s simply never going to happen.