Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) is likely to be granted the power to investigate and prosecute election fraud cases, the Associated Press reported on Friday.
Both the state House and Senate have approved bills that would allow Kobach’s office the expanded purview, and Kobach said he is optimistic that a final version of the proposal will be agreed upon when state lawmakers reconvene this week.
Under current state law, Kobach is required to refer cases of suspected voter fraud to county or federal prosecutors. But he has argued that both they and state Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s (R) office are too busy to adequately pursue such cases.
“We just want to make sure that somebody with prosecutorial experience goes after these cases,” said Kobach, a former law professor and advisor to former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney who helped write Arizona’s so-called “papers please” immigration law.
However, critics of the proposal said cases involving voter disputes should be part of the attorney general’s caseload.
“The AG should be in control of all the prosecutions, or the local district and county attorneys,” said state Rep. Jan Pauls (D). “It’s nice to have everybody’s role stay the same as it has been traditionally.”
According to Right Wing Watch, Kobach has a history of alleging widespread election fraud despite a lack of evidence. In 2011, he argued that he had identified 221 instances of it between 2007 and 2010. But just seven of those cases led to convictions.
More recently, Kobach has said his office found 30 instances during the 2012 election suggesting double voting involving matching names and birthdates between voters in Kansas and another state. In February 2013 he told the Topeka Capital-Journal that prosecutors failed to follow up on 11 “slam dunk” cases of double voting.
But according to Stephen Howe, the district attorney for Johnson County, at least two of those involved an elderly voter suffering from dementia, and a developmentally disabled man.
Another alleged double voter was a developmentally disabled man.
“Are we supposed to prosecute that case?” Howe said. “I chose not to.”