When Kris Kobach, Kansas’ aggressive secretary of state, convinced the state legislature to give him prosecutorial power to pursue voter fraud, he said it was necessary to root out tens of thousands of undocumented aliens who were voting as well as tens of thousands more who he claimed were voting in two states.
Two years later, Kobach has produced exactly nine convictions. Most of them were not illegal immigrants but rather older registered Republicans. Who Kobach targeted, and the controversial homegrown computer program he used to find them, matter even more now that he has been selected by President Trump to lead a commission on voter fraud. Kobach’s boss has claimed on numerous occasions, without evidence, that millions of illegal ballots cost him the popular vote. Kobach, despite his sweeping pronouncements to Kansas politicians, hasn’t found anything resembling a fraud of that proportion….
In August of 2012, Wilson, a 66-year-old entrepreneur, went to vote in Goodland, Kansas, a small town near the Colorado border. When Wilson was asked where he lived, he said he owned homes in both Kansas and Colorado. When he was asked where he voted, he answered that he voted in local elections in both states. An election official told him to fill out a provisional ballot, so he did. When he went to the clerk’s office to update his address and vote in 2014, he again filled out a provisional ballot at the direction of the clerk.
“I’d vote for president in one state, and local issues in both places,” he told POLITICO Magazine. He said he’d been doing this ever since his property tax bill on a hotel he owned in Goodland had doubled in one year in 2004.
Because they were provisional ballots, they were never actually counted. But that didn’t matter to Kobach who in 2015, after a local prosecutor’s decision not to open a case, charged Wilson with three felonies and seven misdemeanors. Kobach alleged that Wilson had voted unlawfully going back to 2010 and that he had committed perjury by signing Kansas’s voting registration form, which stipulates citizens verify they will vote only once.
Wilson, who voted for Trump last November, spent 18 months fighting Kobach and the charges against him. He went through two lawyers and, he says, nearly $50,000 in legal fees before pleading guilty to three misdemeanor counts of voting without being qualified and two misdemeanor counts of falsely swearing to an affidavit. He was fined $6,000 fine, and another $158 in court costs. “Kris Kobach came after me for an honest mistake,” Wilson said. “Damn right, I’m upset.”