Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s fantasies of massive numbers of fraudulent voters just got hit with a dose of reality today as a federal judge slapped the head of President Trump’s disbanded and disgraced Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity with a contempt of court conviction over his refusal to implement the judge’s orders.
BREAKING: Federal judge finds Kobach in contempt of court for violating 2016 order. Details to come.
— Dale Ho (@dale_e_ho) April 18, 2018
U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson had previously admonished Kobach, who is now running for governor of Kansas, for repeatedly ignoring her orders to properly register thousands of voters in the state who had registered at the DMV but had not provided the proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or passport, as required by a Kansas law that Kobach crafted.
Judge Robinson ruled in 2016 that the DMV registrants had full voting rights and that Kobach must notify them of their status as fully registered voters and of the locations of their polling place by sending them the same type of postcards that every other Kansas voter receives.
She expressed her frustration with Kobach’s failure to execute her orders at a contempt hearing last month, as reported in The Kansas City Star.
“I’ve had to police this over and over and over again,” the judge told Kobach. “The real question is why has the secretary of state not complied with it until he’s called on it. … There’s been no change of rules. There’s been no ambiguity,” Robinson said.
“Kansans have come to expect these postcards to confirm their registration status, and Defendant ensured the Court on the record that they had been sent prior to the 2016 general election,” Robinson said. “They were not, and the fact that he sent a different notice to those voters does not wholly remove the contempt, nor does his attempt to resend postcards eighteen months after the election and five months after Plaintiffs notified him of the issue.”
Today’s decision comes as part of a suit filed by the ACLU to determine whether the Kansas voter ID law is legal under federal voting rights requirements. Judge Robinson ordered Kobach to pay the legal fees of the plaintiffs in the case but deferred any further fines or penalties until she issues the final decision regarding the legality of the overall voter ID law. Kobach was previously fined $1,000 last year for misleading the court about the contents of documents he shared with President Trump that urged changes to federal voting laws.
If, as even Kobach himself now expects, the judge strikes down the ID requirements for registration, it would mean up to 35 thousand additional voters could participate in the 2018 elections that will determine control of Congress as well as the inhabitant of the Kansas Governor’s mansion.
The sudden reintroduction of 35 thousand disenfranchised voters to the voting rolls may not be the best news for the gubernatorial candidate who worked so hard to prevent them from voting, particularly since they are unlikely to support the man who tried to strip them of their rights.
The controversy over voting rights continues as Republicans across the country try to restrict access to polls with claims of fictional claims of fraudulent voting as a means of keeping historically Democratic constituencies from being able to cast votes against them. Besides voter ID laws, Republicans have used tactics such as curtailing early voting hours and reducing the number of polling places and moving their locations as a method of reducing turnout for their political rivals.
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