Last week our Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach announced criminal charges against three people for voter fraud in the 2010 election, detailed by the Wichita Eagle. All three are being charged with double voting, or voting in two states.
These are the first cases filed since Kobach was given prosecutorial power earlier this year, an authority which he is the only secretary of state in the country to have. Kobach, for some reason, has been a real champion of the issue of voting fraud, and along with Gov. Brownback, helped lead Kansas to new voting restrictions in the Secure and Fair Elections Act.
Included in this act were measures such as: starting in 2012, Kansas voters were required to show photographic identification when casting an in-person vote, and as of 2013, first-time registers in Kansas must prove U.S. citizenship when registering to vote. By the by, these laws in no way affect the problem of double voting in the three cases above.
This was done in the name of preventing voter fraud, but the evidence shows that it really was done in the name of nonsense and disenfranchisement.
An overwhelming amount of evidence in academic papers, government inquiries, news investigations and court rulings are showing us that voter fraud is, for all intents and purposes, a myth, as detailed in places like the Washington Post and the New York Times. Phrases like “infinitesimal,” “virtually no voter impersonation occurs,” “no evidence” and a “misperception,” are used to describe the problem of voter fraud.
In the New York Times article, “Voter ID Battle Shifts to Kansas,” published on Thursday, this issue was again raised. “Though advocates of the laws contend that they prevent illegal voting, critics assert that voter fraud is rare. Even Mr. Kobach said in the interview that he knew of fewer than a dozen cases of noncitizens who had successfully voted in Kansas in the last seven years.”
In the same article, it is detailed that due to the new SAFE Act laws, more than 36,000 people in Kansas tried to register to vote since its passing, but did not complete their registration.
In other words, over 36,000 potential voters were disenfranchised in order to catch voter fraud previously described as fewer than a dozen instances over the past seven years, or perhaps the three cases Kobach has brought forth so far.
I’m not particularly good at math, but something sure does seem a bit off about that. Why is it the slightest bit preferable to lose registration for such a huge number of Kansas voters in order to chase a basically nonexistent problem? Well, it seems the only alternative is quite an unsavory one: shameless partisan voter suppression.
Someone who is very good at math, Nate Silver, famous statistician, took a look at the effects of voter ID laws back in 2012, and by his estimates the effect of voter ID law changes, measured from 2008-2012, lowered Kansas turnout by 2.4 percent. He also accredited this effect with bringing about a 1.2 percent new swing of the votes to Republican candidates.
In the Huffington Post’s 2012 article, “GOP Voter ID Campaign Based On Bunk, Data Shows,” Dan Froomkin explained that “By all estimates, those disproportionately affected by voter ID laws include the elderly, minorities, the poor and young adults. Three out of four of those demographic groups tend to vote more Democratic than Republican.”
This rather large effort of Secretary Kobach and Gov. Brownback to curb supposed voter fraud is, by the numbers, clearly nothing more than an obscene partisan suppression of Kansas voters who they are worried just might vote for someone other than themselves.
Here’s an idea: maybe instead of actively and obviously trying to keep opposition voters from the polls, you could instead spend that energy fixing a single damn problem we have here in Kansas. Trust us — there are lots of opportunities. Then people will happily vote for your re-election, and you won’t have to worry about preventing those obnoxious unhappy ones.