Dodging an Election Administration Bullet, “Colyer concedes, handing Kobach the Republican nomination for Kansas governor”

Wichita Eagle: Secretary of State Kris Kobach won the Republican nomination for Kansas governor Tuesday after Gov. Jeff Colyer conceded following a week of stunning twists in the razor-thin contest. The concession came after Kobach widened his lead to more than 300 votes with the counting of provisional ballots in Johnson and Sedgwick counties. Johnson County had been seen as a bulwark in Colyer’s effort to overtake Kobach. Colyer conceded in…

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“Kansas Is Living in the Mess Kris Kobach Made”

Mark Joseph Stern for Slate: It has never been clear whether Kris Kobach understands what his job is. As Kansas’ secretary of state, a position he’s held for nearly eight years, Kobach’s main responsibility is to serve as the state’s chief elections officer. But instead of ensuring that Kansas’ elections run smoothly, Kobach has used his office to foment nativist hysteria around the nonexistent problem of voter fraud, attempting…

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“Accusations of Voter Fraud Can Hurt Republicans, Too”

Frank Wilkinson for Bloomberg View: At any point in the past decade, Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer could’ve said something. When Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was engineering ways to suppress votes, and repeating false claims about voter fraud, Colyer could’ve piped up. Colyer could’ve pointed out that Kobach, his opponent in the state’s Republican gubernatorial primary, has never produced evidence to back his shameless claims. He…

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Kansas: “Johnson County accepts nearly 1,500 new ballots, including from unaffiliated voters”

Wichita Eagle: Johnson County will accept nearly 1,500 provisional ballots either in full or in part, including dozens cast by unaffiliated voters who were incorrectly told by poll workers to cast provisional ballots. The ballots could tip the balance in the GOP primary for governor. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Gov. Jeff Colyer were separated by a mere 110 votes going into Monday. The Johnson County Board of Canvassers voted…

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Today’s Must Read: Kansas Ballot Counting Issues Echo Florida 2000

KC Star: Local officials spread across Kansas’ 105 counties will exercise an incredible amount of power this week when they determine whether thousands of ballots should count in the closest primary race for governor in Kansas history. The roughly 9,000 provisional ballots, awaiting rulings from county officials across the state, will likely decide whether Gov. Jeff Colyer or Secretary of State Kris Kobach emerges as the GOP’s standard-bearer…

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“Kansas governor accuses Kobach of not counting all votes in governor race”

The Hill: Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) accused Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) on Friday of intentionally pushing a miscount of the number of ballots cast in the gubernatorial primary race. “Secretary Kobach’s office was instructing counties not to count ballots that are in the mail, and those clearly have to be counted under Kansas law,” Colyer said in a Fox News interview. The governor also expressed concern over the counting of provisional…

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Kobach Hands Kansas Governor Recall Responsibilities to His Deputy, Who Has Donated to His Campaign, and Not to Election Professional

KC Star: Assistant Secretary of State Eric Rucker will take over Kobach’s duties and will serve on the State Board of Canvassers, which will certify the final election results. Rucker donated $1,000 to Kobach’s campaign last fall, according to campaign finance records…. Rucker was a top aide to former Kansas attorney general Phill Kline. Rucker found himself under scrutiny by an attorney disciplinary panel in 2010 that had looked into how…

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Kobach Says He’s Going to Recuse Himself—Let’s See If/How That Happens

KC Star: Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said in a cable news interview Thursday night that he plans to recuse himself from the vote tally process in the face of pressure from Gov. Jeff Colyer and mounting confusion over vote totals. Kobach said that he would recuse himself in an interview with CNN hours after Colyer had sent a letter demanding that Kobach refrain from instructing county election officials on the counting of ballots in…

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Kobach’s Office Apparently Made the Error Awarding Him 100 More Votes than He Deserved

Oh my: The hotline announcement coincided with the discovery of 100 votes for Colyer in Thomas County near the Colorado border. Thomas County Clerk Shelly Harms confirmed that Colyer received 522 votes on election day rather than the total of 422 that had been reported by the secretary of state’s office. She shared a scan of the form she submitted to Kobach’s office, which clearly showed 522 votes for the governor, and said the secretary of…

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Today’s Must Read: “Inside The Trump Voter Fraud Commission’s Weird, Wild Attempt To Prove The Untrue”

Sam Levine for HuffPo: One morning in June last year, just before 3 a.m., Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach emailed White House officials with an editing suggestion for a draft letter they were preparing on behalf of President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission. In addition to requesting a boatload of voter information, the letter asked state election officials to answer questions about evidence of voter fraud and to offer…

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“No law prevents Kris Kobach from overseeing the likely recount in his own race”

KC Star: No law requires Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to recuse himself from a recount in the governor’s race, but legal and political experts say that he should to maintain trust in the election. Republican legislative leaders said Wednesday morning that a recount is almost certain and could possibly take weeks. Kobach, the state’s top election official, narrowly led Gov. Jeff Colyer in the Republican primary by a mere 191 votes…

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“Kansas and Ohio Races Remain Too Close to Call”

NYT: The Kansas Republican primary for governor and Ohio’s high-stakes special election for Congress both remained too close to call on Wednesday morning, with razor-thin margins separating the candidates in each race. With all precincts reporting in Kansas shortly before 9 a.m. Wednesday, Secretary of State Kris W. Kobach was ahead of Gov. Jeff Colyer by just 191 votes out of more than 311,000 Republican ballots cast statewide. The results…

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“Election experts say Kris Kobach’s voter fraud claims are misleading”

CNN: Kris Kobach, the former vice-chair of President Donald Trump’s now-disbanded commission on election integrity, and Maine’s Democratic Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap have engaged in a public back and forth over the issue of voter fraud, with Kobach accusing Dunlap, a former member of the commission, of being “willfully blind to the voter fraud in front of his nose,” and Dunlap claiming that the commission failed…

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“Kris Kobach used flawed research to defend Trump’s voter fraud panel, experts say”

WaPo: One of the foremost proponents of stricter voter identification laws, Kobach, who is running in the primary Tuesday for the Republican nomination for the state’s governorship, has been undeterred since a federal judge struck down a restrictive voting law for which he had advocated in the state. And in a statement sent to The Washington Post, Kobach accused Dunlap of being “willfully blind to the voter fraud in front of his nose,” pointing…

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Is Kobach’s Controversial CrossCheck Program Dying?

Steven Rosenfeld: That overall tally means that 17 out of the 28 states that were in Crosscheck as of early 2017 have backed away, at least for now. That list of states, that, under a legal memo, agree to share some of their voter data for analytics overseen by the Kansas Secretary of State, comes from a Supreme Court legal brief filed by ex-Bush administration officials known for overly policing the process. They supported a new purge process…

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“Election Commission Documents Cast Doubt on Trump’s Claims of Voter Fraud”

ProPublica: Today, thousands of commission documents were released that show aspects of the body’s inner workings. As critics have suggested, the records — a mix of memos, internal emails and reports — make clear the commission’s work was driven by a small number of members who were convinced voter fraud was widespread, and that other members were often excluded from critical decisions about the commission’s aims and tactics…. On Nov. 18,…

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ELB Podcast, Season 2: Episode 1. Dale Ho: From the Trenches of the Voting Wars

After a long hiatus, the ELB Podcast is back in time for the midterm election season with a great first guest! What is the state of voting rights in America? What did the ACLU’s lawsuit against Kris Kobach over the state of Kansas’s “show us your papers” citizenship voting law teach us about the extent of the voter fraud problem? What’s at stake in the litigation over the citizenship question which may appear on…

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Today’s Must-Read: “Kris Kobach’s Lucrative Trail of Courtroom Defeats”

Great ProPublica/KC Star joint venture: Kobach used his work in Valley Park to attract other clients, with sometimes disastrous effects on the municipalities. The towns — some with budgets in the single-digit-millions — ran up hefty legal costs after hiring him to defend similar ordinances. Farmers Branch, Texas, wound up owing $7 million in legal bills. Hazleton, Penn., took on debt to pay $1.4 million and eventually had to file for a state…

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None of the Six Republican Candidates for Kansas Secretary of State Sees Voter Fraud as a Major Problem (as SOS Kobach Has Falsely Claimed)

…Interesting contrast: The candidates largely agreed that voter fraud is not a systemic issue but committed themselves to enforcing the state’s election laws. They also said they want to focus on improving the less-talked-about administrative side of the office, such as the state’s publications and business database and registration systems. Update: Maybe that’s not quite right: https://twitter.com/Taniel/status/1022993962083213312  …

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“Judge: Trump Voter Fraud Panel Docs Must Be Turned Over To Member Who Sued”

Tierney Sneed for TPM: Nearly six months after President Trump, citing growing litigation, dissolved his sketchy voter fraud commission, a federal judge in Washington said Wednesday that certain commission documents should be turned over to one of its commissioners, who sued last year over the panel’s lack of transparency. U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly had previously ordered in late December that the commissioner, Maine Secretary…

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“‘It takes five minutes or less.’ Court ruling means new Kansas voters sign up easily”

KC Star: Four days after a federal judge threw out a Kansas voting restriction, 72 newly naturalized Americans became registered voters in the same courthouse where the landmark voting rights trial took place. “That’s the reason why I became a citizen: to be able to vote,” said Patricia Mascote, who owns a convenience store in Overland Park and has lived in the United States for nearly 30 years after emigrating from Mexico. If Mascote’s…

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Crosscheck: “Security Concerns Stall Kris Kobach’s Controversial Voter Tracking Program in Kansas”

KMUW: A massive voter-tracking program run by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach — which purports to help states keep voter rolls accurate — has halted operations over concerns about its own accuracy and security. The Interstate Crosscheck system, which Kobach’s office promised would be working ahead of the 2018 elections, has been sidelined while the U.S. Department of Homeland Security conducts a security assessment following the…

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“Voter fraud much greater threat than election hacking, Missouri’s Jay Ashcroft says”

KC Star: “While these are serious allegations, it is vitally important to understand that after two years of investigation there is no credible — and I can strike credible and just put evidence — there is no evidence that these incidents caused a single vote or a single voter registration to be improperly altered during the 2016 election cycle,” Ashcroft said. “It was not our votes or our election systems that were hacked — it was the…

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“Kobach Finally Tells Clerks To Comply With Court Order On Proof-of-Citizenship”

Tierney Sneed for TPM: After two days of confusion — with some but not all county election officials enforcing a Kansas voting restriction struck down by a federal judge Monday — the Kansas Secretary of State’s office instructed local officials Wednesday that proof-of-citizenship was not required to register to vote. The instructions marked the end — or at least a pause — in a years-long saga of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach fighting…

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“APNewsBreak: Kobach Sought Pardon For VP Of Corporate Donor”

AP:  Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach unsuccessfully sought a governor’s pardon for a corporate campaign donor’s vice president whose crime, police said, involved threatening a cab driver by putting a gun to his head. Kobach, a Republican and leading candidate for Kansas governor, approached then-GOP Gov. Sam Brownback’s chief counsel about clemency for Kansas City-area resident Ryan Bader in August 2017, state records…

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Kansas SOS Kobach Apparently Disobeying Court Order, At Least for Now

KSNT: In the aftermath of a federal judge’s ruling yesterday voters may be confused about voter registration. The judge ruled it is unconstitutional for Secretary of State Kobach to make voters show proof of citizenship to register. However Secretary Kobach told county election officials to keep enforcing that rule, until he gives written instructions to do otherwise. He will, however, comply with the judge’s order to do mandatory…

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“Judge strikes down Kansas voter law, orders Kobach to take classes”

…Wichita Eagle: Kobach’s office said he will appeal the ruling. “Judge Robinson is the first judge in the country to come to the extreme conclusion that requiring a voter to prove his citizenship is unconstitutional. Her conclusion is incorrect, and it is inconsistent with precedents of the U.S. Supreme Court,” his office said in a statement….

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Breaking: Federal District Court Sides with ACLU over SOS Kris Kobach in Proof of Citizenship Voting Case

Given how things went at trial (Kobach got held in contempt at one point—though had the fine paid off with a government credit card), this is no surprise. In addition to injunctive and declaratory relief, “the Court imposes sanctions responsive to Defendant’s repeated and flagrant violations of discovery and disclosure rules.” This is a complete victory for the ACLU in a careful, detailed opinion by a Republican-appointed…

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“Congressman can be ‘Rep. Ron Estes’ in race against other Estes, board says”

…Wichita Eagle: The Rep will stay on the ballot. U.S. Congressman Ron Estes will be listed as “Rep. Ron Estes” on the Republican primary ballot in his race against Ron M. Estes — a first-time candidate of the same name — after a state board denied an objection against using the name. Should Rep. Estes win the primary, the “Rep” will not appear on the general election ballot, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said….

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“SOS Kris Kobach’s office paid $1,000 fine in federal case with state-issued credit card”

Topeka Capital-Journal: Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Kansas, said three weeks ago Kobach had paid the penalty “out of his own pocket.” However, a Kansas Open Records Act request of the Kansas Department of Administration produced records Friday showing the payment was processed July 21, 2017, with a credit card issued by the state to Craig McCullah, who at that time was deputy assistant secretary of state under Kobach and is…

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Kobach’s Hand in Citizenship Census Question

NYT: Documents released in a lawsuit attempting to block the inclusion of a question about citizenship in the 2020 census show lobbying by anti-immigration hard-liners for the question’s inclusion, and resistance on the part of some census officials to asking it. The Kansas secretary of state, Kris W. Kobach, who has taken a strong position against illegal immigration and was appointed by President Trump to a now-defunct panel on voter fraud,…

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Common Cause Wins Preliminary Injunction Against Indiana Voter Purge Program Based on Kobach-Led Cross-Check Program

From the court’s decision preliminarily enjoining Indiana’s purge system as violating the NVRA: Regarding the likelihood of success on the merits, the Court determines that Common Cause has a high likelihood of success on the merits of its claim that SEA 442 violates some of the requirements of the NVRA and threatens disenfranchisement of eligible voters. The NVRA plainly requires that a state “shall not remove the name of a…

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“Kobach can be investigated by citizen grand jury, Kansas Court of Appeals rules”

KC Star: The Kansas Court of Appeals ruled Friday that a citizen grand jury can proceed with an investigation of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in Douglas County. Steven Davis, a Democratic candidate for the Kansas House, first filed a petition in 2016 to investigate Kobach on the allegation that he had intentionally failed to register voters who had tried to register through the state’s online registration system. The Douglas County…

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“Kobach attorney says ACLU fees for contempt are redundant, excessive”

CJ Online: An attorney for Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says the attorney fees requested by the American Civil Liberties Union for a contempt finding against Kobach are unreasonably high. In the latest filing in a case over the state’s voter registration law, which requires applicants to provide proof of citizenship, Sue Becker argues $50,000 is too costly for a single motion. A federal judge issued the contempt ruling in April, a…

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Kansas SOS Kris Kobach went through a Town on a Jeep during a Parade with a Replica Gun Mounted on It

KC Star: Kris Kobach made his way through a parade in Johnson County Saturday morning, waving from an American flag colored jeep with a large gun mounted in back. The city of Shawnee later issued an apology for Kobach’s display. The sight of Kobach, a Republican candidate for Kansas governor, in the vehicle at the Old Shawnee Days parade stunned some onlookers and quickly sparked criticism on social media. “It was pretty shocking,”…

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“Appeals Court Bats Down Kobach Request To Overturn Contempt Finding”

TPM: An appeals court dismissed Tuesday a request by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to overturn a federal judge’s finding that he was in contempt of court. The three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in its dismissal that Kobach had appealed the contempt finding prematurely. “Although the district court stated that it was imposing sanctions, specific sanctions have not yet been imposed,” the judges wrote. “Here,…

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“ACLU seeks $51K for fight with Kobach that led to contempt finding”

Topeka Capital Journal: The American Civil Liberties Union is asking for more than $50,000 in compensation for hours spent fighting Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach over issues that led to his contempt of court finding. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson ordered Kobach’s office to pay for attorney fees and expenses when she ruled last month that Kobach ignored her orders after she blocked enforcement of the state’s voter registration law….

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“Kobach can pay contempt costs with state money, after lawmakers drop ban”

KC Star: Kansas lawmakers have abandoned an effort to force Secretary of State Kris Kobach to pay out of his own pocket the costs of being held in contempt of court. The decision ended a looming showdown between Kobach and the Legislature over who is on the hook financially. Kobach was dressed down by a federal judge during a civil trial over voter rights and ordered to pay attorney fees for the plaintiffs in the case. The Legislature’s…

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“Federal judge finds Kris Kobach in contempt of court in voting rights case”

KC Star: A federal judge on Wednesday found Secretary of State Kris Kobach in contempt of court in a case involving Kansas voting laws, her latest rebuke of the Republican candidate for governor. Kobach is considered a GOP frontrunner despite his constant court battles involving voter fraud and strict voting requirements that he has pushed while in office as the state’s top election official. In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Julie…

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“NH Primary Source: Gardner using Interstate Crosscheck System to probe possible NH voter fraud”

WMUR:  Secretary of State Bill Gardner has been saying for several weeks now that he intends to release new information about potential voter fraud later this spring, when his comprehensive review of registration and voting lists, using the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck System, is completed. Gardner told New Hampshire Primary Source this week that expects his report will provide an estimate of the number of duplicate voters during…

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