Capitol Update: Rep. Parker calls for end to ‘Kobach experiment’ to restrict voting rights

Jay Senter - January 29, 2018 9:52 am
Rep. Brett Parker
Rep. Brett Parker

Each legislative session, we provide the Shawnee Mission area’s elected officials with the chance to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol. Rep. Brett Parker, Rep. Cindy Neighbor and Sen. Dinah Sykes are scheduled to send updates this week. Here’s Rep. Parker’s filing:

By now, nearly all Kansans know the costs of the Brownback tax experiment: excessive borrowing, downgraded credit, neglected roads, and underfunded schools. Kansas became the object of national media attention and the butt of jokes for its failed attempt at trickle-down economics. Finally, the pro-education wave of the 2016 election led to a productive 2017 legislative session. By acknowledging the failure of ideological extremism, Kansas began the long road to recovery.

Kansas Sec. of State Kris Kobach, who is running for governor.
Kansas Sec. of State Kris Kobach, who is running for governor.

Meanwhile Secretary of State Kris Kobach was quietly conducting a failed experiment of his own. In 2011, Kobach pushed the passage of his signature policy: the SAFE Act. This legislation is part of Kobach’s effort to convince America there are abundant and elusive non-citizens who willingly risk felonies, jail time, and their status in the U.S. to provide a single extra vote to candidates they like. Kobach claims there are tens of thousands of non-citizens intentionally voting in Kansas alone. Yet he has only found one person in the intervening seven years – someone who was misinformed, not intentionally committing a crime.

It might be tempting to let the befuddled Secretary continue to tilt at his windmills until his term expires. However, his experiment comes at a tremendous cost to our democracy and community. Kobach made registering to vote more difficult in Kansas than any other state in the nation. 22,000 Kansans had their registration purged or suspended for the 2016 election. Youth and new voter participation was hit especially hard.

It is time for Kansans to come together and bring an end to Kobach’s failed experiment, as we did Brownback’s, via The Free State Elections Act (HB 2538 & SB 326). That is why I have worked with Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate to introduce this common sense legislation. First and foremost, this bill repeals Kobach’s unnecessary, bureaucratic barriers to voter registration and puts us back in line with nearly every other state. The Free State Elections Act also proactively encourages young citizen participation by allowing election day voter registration, and makes voting by mail more accessible for our elders. Lastly, The Free State Elections Act brings an end to Kobach’s inept, discredited Interstate Crosscheck program. Crosscheck’s high false-positive rate and Kobach’s bungled security endangers the voter rights and personal information of nearly 100 million voters, and could put Kansas on the hook for millions of dollars in liability for security breaches.

If you’re ready to end Kobach’s ill-considered experiment with our election laws, you can use the state’s legislator look-up tool to contact your state representative and senator. Ask them to support the bipartisan effort to pass The Free State Elections Act and promote civic engagement. Please also reach out to the chairs of the House and Senate Elections committees, Rep. Esau and Sen. Bowers, to urge them to allow hearings and a vote for this bipartisan effort.

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