Koback takes voter ID law across state lines
by Dennis Sharkey
Secretary of State Kris Kobach achieved his goal of getting a voter ID law passed in Kansas rather quickly and now he is moving beyond the borders.
Kobach was the special guest of the Oskaloosa Rotary Club last Wednesday, Nov. 2, and spoke about the Kansas Secure and Fair Elections Act that Gov. Sam Brownback signed in April.
The law requires voters to show a picture identification before they vote. The law also requires that signatures be verified along with driver’s license numbers before absentee ballots are mailed to voters and new registered voters will have to show proof of citizenship.
Kobach said that other states quickly took notice of what Kansas did and passed their own laws.
The Alabama law that was signed in June is an exact copy of the Kansas law. Kobach said that Wisconsin, Texas, South Carolina, Tennessee and Rhode Island all adopted voter ID laws this past year.
“Kansas without question is leading the charge on this issue,” Kobach said. “Is this a good development? I would say so.”
Kobach said the opponents of the law say that it will disenfranchise some voters who do not have photo IDs or proof of citizenship. He said the statistics for those arguments don’t add up and that virtually every functioning person of society has a photo ID.
“You need a photo ID for everything in American life today,” Kobach said.
Kobach was asked if the law was passed on a bipartisan level.
He said it was and pointed to Rhode Island where both houses are controlled by Democrats. Kobach said about two-thirds of Kansas House Democrats voted for the law along with most Democrats in the Kansas Senate.
“It’s common sense,” Kobach said. “Election legitimacy is not a Republican issue or Democrat issues, it’s an American issue.
“If we lose confidence that our elections are decided fairly then everybody loses,” he added.
Kobach was asked about his appearances on the national stage and if it is typical for a state official to travel so much outside the borders of the state.
“It’s not typical but there’s no reason that it cannot be that way,” Kobach said.
Kobach said voter fraud was the main driving force that led him to seek the office of Kansas Secretary of State. He said virtually all secretary of states are the chief election officers and that they all share a common goal of election legitimacy.
“We’re going to keep pressing ahead,” Kobach said, not just content with getting the law passed in Kansas. “If one state has a fraudulently delivered election it can affect the fate of all of us.”
Kobach said he saw a national issue that could be changed with the seed being planted in Kansas. He said the founding fathers of the country envisioned the states as laboratories for new ideas.
“I saw this as a national issue,” he said. “We can really make a difference in Kansas that can change the whole country.”
He said the last two election cycles have proven that reforms were needed and that is why voters elected him.
“Voter fraud was not something Americans were talking about in the year 2000,” Kobach said. “It was really the extraordinary events of the 2008 cycle and again the 2010 cycle that a lot of people focused on this.”
Kobach is not new to the national scene. He first started surfacing on C-SPAN and cable television news programs for his testimony about illegal immigration law reform.
Kobach helped a town in Pennsylvania draft an anti-illegal immigration law before being contacted by lawmakers in Arizona. Kobach helped the state author what has turned out to be a controversial immigration law that was signed into law last year.
Although he is not pushing for immigration reform law in Kansas he did say that the state has an issue.
Kobach said there are an estimated 90,000 illegal immigrants in the state while more than 100,000 Kansans are without work. He said it is estimated that up to 70,000 of the illegal immigrants are employed.
“It seems to me at a time of high unemployment and Kansans are trying to put food on the table, why in the world would we want those 60,000 jobs to go to people who are unlawfully present in the United States?” he said. “I don’t understand the argument that says we need that illegal labor.”
Kobach said in states like Arizona and Alabama where strong immigration laws have been passed the law is working. He said both states are seeing high numbers of self-deportation.
“When there is a significant chance of getting caught, people change their behavior,” he said.
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