The Legislature, ever protective of our democracy, has granted the state’s chief election clerk, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the power to prosecute people who attempt to vote without his permission. If he can find any, that is. Kobach also has unilateral power to change the voting rules in Kansas, and began writing his own soon after he was first elected in 2010. Among them, and currently at issue, is his “administrative rule” to throw out any voter registration forms that have been “incomplete” for 90 days or longer. Prior to the 2014 elections, the registrations of more than 30,000 voters were stalled because the citizens who filed them had trouble finding the birth certificates, passports or naturalization papers needed to qualify. At latest count, Kobach’s matted tangle of red tape prevented 30,252 prospective voters from participating in the last election. Because their applications continue on hold, and their frustrations mount, and the days go by, Kobach plans this month to purge them from his files. Sample records indicate that most of the purged-to-be are elderly, or not white, or college students. People whose applications are tossed can try again, Kobach says. Why would they, when the boss can rewrite the rules on a whim?
You’ll recall that Kobach, packing his Harvard law degree and his manual for beating the border sage to roust villainous Mexicans, rode into Kansas claiming the aliens were at our gates. The state was near collapse from fraudulent voting, he cried. Although none was found, Kobach continues to accumulate power by repeating the threat.
Life is simple to Kris, as it should be to all of us. If a person expresses the desire to vote but can’t produce a birth certificate, you bust him. A voter offends public sensibilities by having no drivers license, club him with a new election law. Of course, in his crime-busting career, Kobach’s record for convictions is zero because there has been no crime – until now. In a stroke of the pen and a purse of his lips, Kobach has invented more than 30,000 “criminals,” soon to be convicted and purged.
The beauty of this charge into the Swamp of Sin is its simplicity. Election clerks want to know whether voters are corrupt, they ask Kris. Kris gives them the word. County commissions can save a lot of time in the next election (if there is one) if they simply invite Kris to pass judgment before the polls open. He’ll tell them. Such genius is to be cherished. Think of the days, nay years, the legal minds of this nation have wrestled the subject of voting – and still haven’t ruled to Kobach’s satisfaction. If they had summoned Kobach for advice, we would all be pure and our voting laws wouldn’t be so confusing. All anyone in doubt need do is call our high-minded crusader. And for now, ain’t fraud – real or imagined – wonderful? And doesn’t it get Kris Kobach in the headlines like all getout (the vote)?
– JOHN MARSHALL