Kris Kobach charged 15 people with election crimes during his tenure as Kansas’ top election official. Many of the cases involved allegations similar to those now facing Kansas Republican Rep. Steve Watkins, who Kobach campaigned with 2018.
But Kobach, now a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, questioned Friday the decision to prosecute Watkins.
The former Kansas secretary of state, who has repeatedly warned about voter fraud through his political career, suggested that the matter should have been handled instead by the State Objections Board, a panel that includes the secretary of state, attorney general and lieutenant governor.
“It’s a little bit surprising that the objections process wasn’t used and instead the prosecution process was used,” Kobach told the Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle after a campaign event in Junction City. It was his first comment on the Watkins case.
“Normally, we would handle this through the objections process. That’s not saying that the charges are false. I’m not saying anything about the merits,” Kobach said.
But the Objections Board has little to do with Watkins’ case. It settles disputes, for example, over whether candidates qualify for the ballot by meeting residency requirements.It does not have jurisdiction in cases of alleged voter fraud, nor does it level penalties or sanctions.