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 to purge and prosecute voters while tormenting immigrants. This campaign raised his national profile and lined his pockets with taxpayer money. But it did not improve Kansas’ elections system, which Kobach allowed to atrophy despite mounting evidence that future races could be thrown into chaos.
Now that chaos has arrived, in the very election that will determine Kobach’s political future. The Aug. 7 primary between the secretary of state and incumbent Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer remains too close to call due to election-day errors that left thousands of ballots in limbo. Kobach’s lead of 110 votes could disappear depending on if (and how) these votes are counted, decisions the secretary of state may be able to affect despite having ostensibly recused himself from the process. The whole mess is an absolute nightmare for Kansas Republicans, one they richly deserve. For years, the state GOP allowed Kobach to abuse the powers of his office for political gain while failing to perform basic duties. Now his negligence has come back to haunt the party, which faces an internecine brawl that is spiraling toward catastrophe.