Kansas Secretary of State Kobach wants to purge 30,0000 voters because he can

When Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach took office in 2013, he immediately advocated for a law requiring proof of citizenship to vote, even though you aren’t allowed to make such a requirement for federal elections. That law was passed, and Kansas now has two voter registration forms; one state and one federal. The state also maintains a “suspended voter” list of voters who are unable to prove their citizenship.

Kobach has since done everything in his power to prosecute all of the kinds of voter fraud that don’t actually happen in Kansas, while doing everything in his power to ignore the kinds of fraud that could benefit Republicans.

An analysis of Kobach’s suspended voter list has found that practically none of the people on the list could be confirmed as non-citizens, but Kobach now wants to change state regulations to allow him to purge anyone who has been on the list for more than 90 days from the voter rolls.

There is only one confirmed case of a non-citizen registering to vote in Kansas, and she did so by mistake: After signing up for a temporary drivers license, she was asked if she would like to register to vote. According to Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston, “She felt that she was doing what she was supposed to do.”

Currently, the “suspended voter” list stands at over 30,000 people, many of whom are lower-income, minority or elderly voters who do not have drivers licenses. For many of those voters, it can take more than 90 days to pull together the necessary documentation — a birth certificate, U.S. Passport or naturalization papers — in order to prove citizenship. From ThinkProgress:

Currently, voters can provide the required documents up until Election Day, but Kobach wants to change that. He told a Kansas newspaper the proposal is intended to save election officials time and money and cut down on reminders they send voters to submit their citizenship documents.

Kris Kobach, via Wikimedia Commons

Kris Kobach, via Wikimedia Commons

Purging these people from the rolls does nothing to push back against voter fraud, as their registration status is already considered incomplete and they already aren’t allowed to vote in state elections. Kobach’s justification for purging them — that sending reminders to suspended voters is costing the state too much time and money — smacks of laziness given a bureaucratic problem of Kobach’s own making.

Given Kobach’s self-professed care for the right to vote — that’s what his voter fraud crusade has been all about — it doesn’t make any sense for him to wantonly discard the registration forms of tens of thousands of almost-certainly citizens just because they’re a hassle for his staff.

Well, it does make sense: Kobach isn’t anti-voter fraud; he’s just anti-voting. But we knew that already.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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