The Chair of the Kansas GOP, Kris Kobach, sent out an end-of-the-year email to update members on all of the Kansas GOP's accomplishments during 2007. From that e-mail:
2007 has been a busy year for the Kansas Republican Party. We have taken the last 11 months to rebuild our party operations, make technology updates, build our fundraising database, and identify voters. We have also put operations in place to make the Party a more effective organization to support candidates, and better able to provide rapid campaign response in every county in the state.
Sounds like they have been busy. Just what are some of the things that Kris Kobach and the Kansas GOP have been able to accomplish? A few snippets:
We have instituted a wholesale technological change at Party headquarters. We have updated everything, from our website to our email system. Additionally, we are getting ready to launch the official Republican Party blog—to further help spread the positive actions of all of Republican elected officials.
Heh. I guess us bloggers and Netroots activists aren't so crazy after all. Even the Kansas GOP is trying to get in on the action - albeit belatedly.
We have revamped the party platform process to better represent the views of all Republicans across Kansas. Share your thoughts with us at
Translation: Half of our members walked out in 2006 due to the wingnut takeover of our party and we'd like to have you back. Please tell us how to get
your money you back.
Our voter identification system is up and running giving us the capability to effectively mobilize voters and turn them out to vote on Election Day. To date, the Kansas GOP has identified and caged more voters in the last 11 months than the previous two years!
Whoa....hold up. Did the Chair of the Kansas GOP not only just admit that they have been actively caging voters, but actually have the gall to brag about it in an email to supporters? Either Kris Kobach, GOP Chair and Professor of Constitutional Law, doesn't know what caging means, or he is brashly talking about illegal voter suppression. What is voter caging?
Vote caging is a voter suppression tactic. The term is derived from a direct mail term. In the direct mail industry, when a third party runs a direct mailing campaign on behalf of a client organization, one of the activities undertaken is to compile all of the responses, handle contributions and to deposit received funds into the client's account, and also update the database of names and addresses that were mailed to with the responses or corrected addresses obtained. Since some of the activities were controlled carefully (donations and deposits) and conducted in a manner similar to the activities within a "teller's cage," the process is called "caging" and the end result of the data entry updates and address corrections is called a "caging list." This led to the term "voter caging" for voter registration analysis and challenges conducted via mass mailings.
Caging, as Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) "helpfully pointed out, 'is a term of art in mailhouses' – it refers to the place where letters go when they have no address, all batched up in a separate room." 
As House Committee on the Judiciary chair John Conyers (D-MI) added, caging "in the context of elections 'is not an issue of the mail at all.' Voter caging, in the context of elections, means blocking voters out – choosing whole lists of voters whose vote will be challenged, chosen by whom and the criteria for challenge enunciated by whom, under this [the Bush] administration, still not fully explained." 
And Kris Kobach is openly admitting to violating a consent decree against such practices. From an Oct 2004 Washington Post article:
The Republican challenges in Ohio, Wisconsin and other battleground states prompted civil rights and labor unions to sue in U.S. District Court in Newark, saying the GOP is violating a consent decree, issued in the 1980s by Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise and still in effect, that prevents the Republicans from starting "ballot security" programs to prevent voter fraud that target minorities.
According to that article, during the 2004 election, 35,000 voters from "urban and minority areas" were challenged in Cincinnati alone. Crooks and Liars points to this article from September of this year which details current Republican caging efforts leading up to the 2008 elections:
Over the last three years, the Republican-controlled state legislatures in Indiana, Georgia, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have passed laws requiring every voter to produce a photo identification card — measures that civil rights groups contend were aimed at suppressing minority voting.
The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to consider a constitutional challenge to Indiana's ID law on grounds that it unfairly affects poor and elderly voters. Gubernatorial vetoes or court rulings have nullified legislation in the other four states. A federal judge in Georgia, however, recently upheld a new photo ID law that imposes fewer obstacles to obtaining one.
In Ohio, which swung the 2004 election to Bush, new Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said in a phone interview that an election law passed last year and signed by former Republican Gov. Bob Taft effectively ``institutionalized'' vote caging.
The law requires that the state's 88 county election boards send non-forwardable, pre-election notices to all 7.8 million registered Ohio voters at least 60 days before the election. Undelivered letters are public record, she said, meaning that effectively, ``now the counties are paying for'' the data needed to compile challenge lists.
In addition, Brunner said, the law toughened voter ID requirements and ``took away rights of some voters to be heard about whether or not their registration was valid.''
In the past, Ohio voters were entitled to an official notice and a hearing before an election board could declare them ineligible, but the new law says that the board can make that decision without notice. A disqualified voter who shows up at the polls must demonstrate that he's fixed any eligibility problem or opt for filing a provisional ballot that may not count.
If these tactics are now being aggressively used by Kris Kobach and the Kansas GOP, you can bet they will be trying to use them in all 50 states come next November.
Let's hope that Kris Kobach will be explaining that email to a Grand Jury in the near future. Let's also hope that the Democrats will be diligently working to fight these illegal tactics......before November 2008.