The Kansas Supreme Court has found sufficient evidence to convene a grand jury to hold hearings on whether Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach intentionally manipulated voter registration in the state during the 2016 elections, according to an article on Vox.
Kobach, now the Republican candidate for governor in Kansas in this year’s election, was a leading proponent of the discredited conspiracy theory — also promulgated by President Trump — that millions of ineligible voters illegally voted in the 2016 presidential elections. He was appointed by the president to lead the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity to investigate the voter fraud allegations.
The commision never found any credible evidence supporting the claims, and it was dissolved by the President before any report of its actions was issued after many states objected to releasing their voter rolls to the partisanly run commision which also excluded Democratic members from crucial meetings and decision making.
Critics of the commission rightfully accused it of being set up to legitimize the types of voter suppression activities that the Kansas Supreme Court has authorized a grand jury to investigate.
The accusations that led to the grand jury investigation of Kobach stem from a petition by Steven Davis, an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the Kansas House, who claims that Kobach and his office had engaged in “destroying, obstructing, or failing to deliver online voter registration,” as well as possessing falsely made or altered registration books, preventing qualified electors from voting, and “being grossly neglectful with respect to their election duties.”
Kobach has called the allegations politically motivated, claiming that the problems with online registration stemmed from technical malfunctions and were short-lived. He has fought Davis’s petition in court since it was initially filed in 2016 and lost his final appeal when the Kansas Supreme Court denied his request to reverse a lower court decision to empower the grand jury.
The timing of the decision to bring the charges to a grand jury couldn’t be worse for Kobach, who faces another tight race for Governor after barely squeaking through with a victory in the Republican primary contest. With a three-way race for the state’s highest office against Democrat Laura Kelly and independent candidate Greg Orman, Kobach is counting on President Trump’s endorsement to carry him over the finish line.
With the Kansas economy still suffering from the draconian spending cuts made by the Republican-controlled state government, he may find that a presidential endorsement may not be enough to overcome the stigma associated with his voter registration controversy.
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