KANSAS CITY, KANSAS — A spreadsheet created by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office became a focal point in the trial over Kansas’ voter registration proof-of-citizenship requirement. The spreadsheet shows that only five alleged non-citizens have voted in Sedgwick County, the second most populous Kansas county, over the last two decades.
Those alleged non-citizen voters cast collectively about 10-12 votes, the earliest in 2004, testimony revealed. According to the challengers in the case, that’s out of 1.3 million votes cast in the relevant time period in the county. Sedgwick County accounts for a little over one sixth of Kansas’ population.
Yet Kobach is using those examples to defend his proof-of-citizenship requirement, which was implemented in 2013. An appeals court has said Kobach must prove that non-citizen voting is a “substantial” problem in Kansas. So the spreadsheet — along with testimony expected in the days to come from “experts” in voter fraud — is key to Kobach’s argument.
The ACLU, which is representing some of the challengers, sought to show that the list was inflated.
The spreadsheet details 38 cases where non-citizens purportedly voted, registered to vote or attempted to register to vote. Eighteen successfully registered before the law was enacted, 16 were blocked by the law, and four registered after the law was temporarily blocked in 2016, the spreadsheet alleges.
It was discussed during the testimony of Tabitha Lehman, the county’s election commissioner.
Lehman testified that her office started collecting the data systematically in 2013, and that she would send the information about each instance to the secretary of state’s office, which assembled the spread sheet. Part of Lehman’s effort included sending her staff to naturalization ceremonies. There they could identify people who had registered as non-citizens when they attempted to register again — a service offered at naturalization ceremonies — now that they were citizens.
Many of the people cited on the spreadsheet as non-citizens had registered at the DMV, where people getting drivers licenses or state IDs are also asked if they want to register to vote.
In her questioning of Lehman, an ACLU attorney representing the challengers noted that in some cases the non-citizens never voted, even after being registered for seven, 12, and even 18 years. Some of those people only discovered that they had been registered at their naturalization ceremony, when they sought to register, the testimony revealed.
In another case, a non-citizen applicant was called by an elections official to verify the applicant’s name, which it appeared had been taken down incorrectly. The applicant told the official that he or she did in fact change their name, but also that they previously had sought to get themselves removed from the voter rolls, according to notes on a page of the spreadsheet that were displayed in the courtroom.
One non-citizen had not checked the box indicating he or she was a citizen on the voter registration form.
A line from Kobach’s questioning seemed intended to suggest that what Lehman’s office had helped the Secretary of State’s office record was only the tip of the iceberg. He asked Lehman if her predecessor collected the non-citizen registration. Not that she knew of, she said. He asked if she was aware of other counties that collected their own data or sent election staff to naturalization ceremonies. She said she was not aware to both questions.