Voter fraud has become a hot topic in the race for Kansas Secretary of State, as Republican nominee Kris Kobach has made it a central plank in his campaign. However, looking at statistics, there seems to be a disconnect between Kobach’s message on voter fraud and the reality of the situation.
Kansas law defines election crimes as including, but not limited to, voting in place of another person, registering to vote for another person, voter intimidation, electioneering at a polling place, intimidation of poll workers, double voting, failure to deliver advance ballots to the election office as directed by a voter and voting without being qualified.
Kobach’s campaign website states, “Voter fraud is a very real problem in Kansas. Election crimes have been documented across the state—from fraudulent registrations, to vote-by-mail fraud. As the activities of ACORN have demonstrated, organizations that promote voter fraud have burrowed into every corner of our country. In Kansas, the illegal registration of alien voters has become pervasive.”
When asked, Kobach campaign spokesperson Ben Smith said the campaign is basing all of its statements on information provided by the Secretary of State’s office. However, according to statistics provided by the Secretary of State’s office, a total of seven cases were referred to local, state or federal authorities in the past five years regarding election crimes. Out of those seven, only one was prosecuted, and none dealt with unqualified voters.
“There is no evidence of major voter fraud,” said Secretary of State Director of Public Affairs Abbie Hodgson.
Hodgson pointed out that what many might consider cases of voter fraud are, in fact, instances of people requesting absentee ballots on behalf of others, or helping others vote.
As far as the issue of illegal immigrants registering to vote, Hodgson said the Secretary of State’s office has no evidence or documentation of that happening.
“We have no anecdotal evidence from the counties (of illegal immigrants voting). We have found instances of legal immigrants registering to vote,” Hodgson said. “What happens is that when legal immigrants come in to apply for a drivers license, the workers at the Department of Motor Vehicles ask them, as required by the Motor Voter Act, if they would like to register.”
Hodgson said that their office routinely cross checks information with the Department of Revenue to spot these cases, and the registration is revoked. In 2009, 46 such registrations were discovered, with two instances of actual votes being cast. The Secretary of State’s office is working on better signage and training by DMV workers to avoid this.
The Kobach campaign was asked by The Sentinel to provide clarification, in light of these statistics and documents, on how voter fraud is “pervasive”, and whether or not the Secretary of State’s office has been negligent in either investigating or dealing with voter fraud. The campaign was also asked to provide evidence of groups such as ACORN engaging in activities that directly influenced the outcome of elections in Kansas. No responses were received.