For the most part, the Republican machine that churns out allegations of voter fraud in the weeks before an election operates in the shadows, a few steps away from the actual Republican Party.
Not so in Kansas, where the Republican candidate for secretary of state is running almost entirely on a platform of preventing voter fraud, especially by illegal immigrants.The candidate, Kris Kobach, is promising to check identification at polling places, require proof of citizenship when registering and turn the secretary of state’s office into an enforcement powerhouse.
“Voter fraud is a very real problem in Kansas. Election crimes have been documented across the state–from fraudulent registrations, to vote-by-mail fraud. As the activities of ACORN have demonstrated, organizations that promote voter fraud have burrowed into every corner of our country,” he writes on his web site. “In Kansas, the illegal registration of alien voters has become pervasive.”
“Our voter rolls must be purged of thousands of deceased individuals, illegally-registered aliens, and felons,” he goes on.
It seems to be working. According to a SurveyUSA poll released last week, Kobach is leading his opponent, the current secretary of state Chris Biggs, by a 18 points.
Kobach is no fringe candidate. He helped write SB1070, the Arizona immigration law that would require police to check the documents of people they suspect are in the country illegally, and trained Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s deputies on immigration law. He was the top adviser on immigration to former Attorney General John Ashcroft, and helped draft a post-9/11 anti-terrorism program that was shelved due to complaints of racial profiling. He was an adviser to Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson’s presidential campaigns. He chaired the Kansas Republican Party from 2007 to 2009.
He also has ties to Hans van Spakovsky, a voter suppression guru who served in the Bush DOJ. Last month, they spoke together at a Heritage Foundation forum on the Arizona immigration law. And in late September, van Spakovsky sent out an email encouraging folks to attend a Kobach fund-raiser in D.C., hosted by Ashcroft and Ed Meese, who served as attorney general under President Reagan.
“The secretary of state posts are too often neglected by Republicans. They are crucial seats because the SOS is the chief election official in a state,” he wrote in the email. “The Left has been targeting these elected positions since 2004 using a well-funded PAC called the Secretary of State Project and has unfortunately taken control of nine seats in the 2006 and 2008 elections. This includes Minnesota, the scene of the most infamous ‘recount’ in recent years that reversed the results of a U.S. Senate race. Unfortunately, there has been no counter-insurgency by Republicans to match this effort.”
The email was published by Kobach’s opponent and the current secretary of state, Chris Biggs.
Von Spakovsky confirmed the email to TPM. “I think he’s a great candidate,” he said. “Frankly, I think anybody who takes that [preventing voter fraud] very seriously and understands that is a good candidate.”
Spokespeople for Kobach’s and Biggs’ campaigns have not returned calls for comment.
Kobach has been successful enough to bring Sen. Sam Brownback, who is running for governor of Kansas, on board with his anti-voter-fraud plan. Last week, Brownback announced that if elected, he would help Kobach pass legislation to require proof of citizenship while registering to vote and to show ID at the polls.
It looks likely the two will win. Brownback is leading his Democratic opponent, Tom Holland, by 28 points.