Sunday, December 21, 2014

Red, blue challengers knock Kobach on Kansas voting changes ahead of primary

By The Herald Staff | 6/25/2014

By The Herald Staff

TOPEKA — Kansas voters are plagued by “Kobachian” regulations that will make it more difficult to cast ballots on Election Day, a Republican candidate for secretary of state said this week.

By The Herald Staff

TOPEKA — Kansas voters are plagued by “Kobachian” regulations that will make it more difficult to cast ballots on Election Day, a Republican candidate for secretary of state said this week.

Kris Kobach, incumbent Kansas secretary of state, has been under attack from all sides since the June 1 filing deadline officially kicked off the 2014 election season. Challengers Scott Morgan, R-Lawrence, and Jean Schodorf, D-Wichita, both have criticized Kobach for his philosophy and tactics related to voting regulations.

The state’s current voter registration law, which was passed by the Kansas Legislature in 2011 and backed by Kobach, requires proof-of-citizenship documents before an applicant can be registered to vote. About 18,700 registrations currently are on hold because the voting applicants haven’t yet submitted the proper documents, according to media reports. Opponents of the voting law say it disenfranchises the poor and will decrease voter turnout — a result that should be the opposite of the Secretary of State Office’s goals.

Morgan has compared Kobach’s Kansas to George Orwell’s dystopian world in the novel “1984.”

“Like many Kansans, I had always thought the word ‘disenfranchised’ meant to deprive someone of their right to vote,” Morgan said earlier this month. “However, apparently in Kobachian language not letting select Kansans vote for governor, secretary of state or any other nonfederal election in Kansas is not depriving them of their right to vote but rather simply protecting their right to vote.”

The regulations hit close to home for Morgan when his daughter, Grace Morgan, received a notice that she had not properly provided proof of citizenship when registering to vote, according to Scott Morgan’s Facebook page.

“Kobach says he is trying to protect our right to vote from illegal aliens. I now realize that he is protecting us from Grace, a sixth-generation Kansan whose family goes back to the Mayflower,” Morgan said Monday on his Facebook page.

The Secretary of State’s Office said Grace Morgan had submitted the necessary proof of citizenship documents and was officially registered as of Monday, but that there was a delay in getting the documentation to Douglas County, according to media reports. Morgan said he thinks the issue might have been fixed quickly because he is running against Kobach.

“How it happened to my daughter and then was miraculously resolved ... it just makes me wonder how many people out there whose father isn’t running for secretary of state against the incumbent are left in Never Never Land,” he said, according to the Wichita Eagle.

Schodorf, the Democratic challenger, said Kobach’s voting regulations create a system that allows Kansans to vote in all federal elections, but only some Kansans to vote in nonfederal elections.

“Under Kobach’s two-tier voting scheme, some Kansans will be able to vote in all elections, while others will be unable to vote in their state and local elections, which would block their voice from key issues such as education and property taxes,” Schodorf said.

The Democrat previously voted in favor of the voter law while serving in the Kansas Senate as a Republican. Having now switched parties, she said she doesn’t regret voting for the law, but regrets trusting Kobach, according to media reports.

Kobach called Schodorf’s plans to change voter registration laws a “recipe for voter fraud,” according the reports.

“She wants to go to the bad old days when it was easy for aliens to vote. Every time an alien votes, it cancels out the vote of a U.S. citizen,” he said, according to the Wichita Eagle.

Kobach faces Morgan in the Aug. 5 primary election. The winner of the primary is expected to face Schodorf in the November general election.

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