Kris Kobach is the worst secretary of state in the nation. And that’s no easy task. After years of investigation into voter fraud in Kansas, Kobach was able to come up with nine prosecutions, nearly all of them white men over the age of 60 who double-voted in more than one state.
In 2014, Kobach ordered between 35,000 and 40,000 new voters onto a suspended voter list in Kansas. These were newly registered voters who were unable to provide proof of citizenship.
In the same way that grandfather clauses exempted white voters but applied to African-American voters, the ACLU is saying that Kansas's law only applies to new voters or people who try to register after 2013. And if you look at that suspended voter list in Kansas, which at some points in time has had over 35,000 voters on it, over half of the voters are under 35 and nearly all are first-time registrants 'cause, as I said, it only applies to people who are trying to register after 2013. So these are much more likely to be younger people and much more likely to be new registrants.
To put that in perspective, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback won re-election in 2014 by 33,000 votes. Kobach has long wanted to take this voter suppression program nationwide and according to newly released memos, he pitched the idea to Trump immediately after the November 2016 election.
From the Wichita Eagle:
“I have already started regarding amendments to the NVRA to make clear that proof of citizenship requirements are permitted (based on my ongoing litigation with the ACLU over this), as well as legislation to stop the dozen states that are providing instate tuition to illegal aliens in violation of (federal law),” Kobach wrote.
Kobach was writing to Gene Hamilton, who was part of Trump’s transition team. Hamilton wrote back the next morning to say Kobach needed to get the drafts together “sooner rather than later.”
The emails were attached as an exhibit in an ACLU filing in an ongoing lawsuit brought by the organization against Kobach and Kansas’ requirement that voters provide proof of citizenship to register to vote. The Huffington Post first reported on the emails on Saturday.
Kobach was subsequently photographed meeting with Trump (seen above) and holding a piece of paper that appeared to suggest these nationwide changes. As Ari Berman noted in an interview with NPR, these changes would have an absolutely devastating impact on young voters, Latino and African-American voters:
BERMAN: So first, on the voter ID front, a study by the Brennan Center for Justice found that about 11 percent of Americans do not have government-issued ID. So that's a lot of people in this country. And not only that, but there is a disproportionate impact on African-American voters, on Latino voters, on younger voters, on poorer voters, on elderly voters. So some people are more impacted by these laws than others.
When it comes to proof of citizenship, the Brennan Center for Justice has found that 7 percent of voters do not have ready access to their citizenship papers. What we saw in Kansas when they implemented this kind proof of citizenship law - over 35,000 voters, 1 in 7 new registrants, ended up on the state's suspended voter lists. These were more likely to be younger voters. They were more likely to be Democratic voters. They were more likely to be independent voters. So both voter ID and proof of citizenship shape an electorate that is more friendly to Republican candidates.
A federal judge recently ordered Kobach to pay a fine after the judge discovered Kobach lied to the court about the documents he was holding in that photo:
Kobach had argued the documents were not relevant to the case, but U.S. Magistrate Judge James O’Hara disagreed and on Monday directed him to hand them over to the plaintiffs.
One document is Kobach’s draft for an amendment to the federal motor voter law, which, as it stands, makes it easy for voters to register when they get a driver’s license by simply swearing they are citizens.
Not relevant to the case? The documents turned out to be the entire road map to his nationwide voter suppression plan. Meanwhile, a Kansas resident has filed an ethics complaint against Kris Kobach and the Kansas Supreme Court disciplinary office has launched an investigation.
Stay tuned and get ready to fight this racist plan with everything you have. If they succeed, millions of eligible voters will be prevented from their constitutional right to make their voices heard in the next election and beyond.