The Kansas Secretary of State’s office will waste little time making use of its new prosecutorial powers, Kris Kobach told a gathering of the Northeast Johnson County Conservatives on Tuesday.
At the group’s monthly meeting at Burg and Barrel in Overland Park, Kobach said he was preparing to bring the first cases of voter fraud in September and October. Kobach gained the right to prosecute election fraud cases in June, when Gov. Sam Brownback signed SB 34, a bill Kobach had pushed for since shortly after coming into office in 2011. No other secretary of state’s office in the country has similar powers.
“The authority took effect on July 1, and we’re already getting cases ready for prosecution,” he said. “You’ll see a few of them rolled out starting in September. And people not only in Kansas but all across the country are watching because people who focus on this issue know voter fraud occurs everywhere, even in Kansas after we have photo ID and proof of citizenship, there are still types of fraud that still occur, like voting twice.”
Asked by an audience member what percentage of votes cast in Kansas are the result of fraudulent behavior, Kobach acknowledged that the figure was “pretty small.” From the 2010 and 2012 election cycles, he said, his office had identified 18 suspected cases of double voting. However, for the 2014 cycle, the office is investigating more than 100 cases — though he said some of those suspected cases will certainly be “false positives.”
The comments were part of a wide ranging discussion in which Kobach painted a picture of the state Republican party, which he chaired from 2007 to 2009, as having fundamentally transformed the political landscape on a number of key issues. On gun rights, abortion and fighting voter fraud, Kansas has taken significant steps to advance the conservative agenda over the past decade, he said.
“Some might look at that and say, well, Republicans were successful in transforming Kansas into a more conservative state,” he said. “No. We did not turn Kansas into a more conservative state. Republicans were successful in making government reflect the views of Kansans.”
But despite those successes, Kobach said Republicans have not been effective in furthering the party’s cause on issues of taxing and spending, immigration and judicial appointments.
Kobach characterized the issue of balancing the state budget — which he noted was dominated by spending on public schools — as being as much about the judiciary as the legislature’s allocations. “Activist” judges have twisted the meaning of the constitution to force the legislature to spend an unnecessary amount on education, he said. If Republicans want to address the budget issues, they’ll need to change the way judges are appointed in the state.
“If we want to get to the core of the problem on spending, we have to get to the core of the problem on the judiciary,” he said. “And this is a true activist judiciary. This is a judiciary that will change the meaning of the constitution, will change the meaning of the law.”