KANSAS CITY, KANSAS — Before the ACLU had a chance to cross-examine Hans von Spakovsky, a witness for Kris Kobach in his voter proof-of-citizenship case, Judge Julie Robinson intervened to zero in on what appeared to be a contradiction in von Spakovsky’s definition of voter fraud.
In doing so, Judge Robinson appeared to undermine a central tenet of the claim, made by von Spakovsky and Kobach among others, that strict voting laws are needed to combat voter fraud.
Earlier, Kansas Secretary of State Kobach had asked von Spakovsky what his definition of voter fraud was. Lorraine Minnite, an expert witness for the ACLU, had in previous testimony defined voter fraud as the “intentional corruption” of the electoral process by voters.
Von Spakovsky denied that intention or knowledge was necessary to consider an instance of illegal voting or registration fraud. He said that, regardless of their intention, whenever a non-citizen registers or votes “they are defrauding citizens” of a legitimate election.
That assessment caught Judge Julie Robinson’s attention. Between Kobach’s questioning and ACLU cross-examination, she asked about that definition, and brought up the thousands of citizens qualified to vote who are denied the ability to vote, alluding to restrictive laws.
“Would that not also be defrauding the electoral process?” asked Robinson, an appointee of President George W. Bush.
Von Spakovsky said no, and brought up voter ID laws and the case law around them. Von Spakovsky has been a staunch supporter of restrictive voting laws.
“As long as you have an open process to allow the potential voter to obtain the ID to vote,” that’s neither discriminatory nor unconstitutional, then the system is not being defrauded, he said.
Robinson said she was taking from that answer that von Spakovsky wanted to consider the context around burdens in this case. But, conversely, in non-citizen voting — whether that person made a mistake or there was an administrative error — context shouldn’t be considered, she said, describing von Spakovsky’s apparent view.
Why should you only look at it contextually when talking about citizens? Robinson asked.
Von Spakovsky tried to avoid the contradiction again, and said that context should be considered in prosecutions.
“I am not asking about prosecution,” Robinson said. She was asking him how he characterized voter fraud, she said.
Again, von Spakovsky brought up the distinctions he saw between prosecutions and the effect of when a non-citizen casts a ballot.
But Robinson appeared unconvinced. For thousands who are actual citizens, Robinson said, “that’s not diluting the vote? And that’s not impairing the integrity of the electoral process, I take it?”