Voter fraud put to the test

Kansas has a secretary of state named Kris Kobach. He’s one of the Republican officials who says there is rampant voter fraud in the country that makes it necessary to adopt rules that will discourage Democrats from voting.

Kobach won enactment of one of the strangest voting laws in the nation. Voters must do more than produce identification at the polls. They must prove they are citizens. That resulted in 16,319 Kansans being purged from voter rolls and 31,089 being prevented from registering to vote.

His “leadership” in this field naturally brought him to the attention of those who love cockamamie ideas, and Donald Trump appointed Kobach to head a presidential Commission on Election Integrity, a panel which immediately began seeking the social security numbers of U.S. voters and generating other bad publicity that prompted Trump to disband the group before it ever met.

Naturally, the Kansas voter roll purge prompted a lawsuit arguing violation of both the Equal Protection Clause and the National Voter Registration Act. And U.S. District Chief Judge Julie Robinson was willing to hear Kobach prove his case. She directed him to produce evidence showing the need for the law.

It was a great opportunity. So many people have challenged the notion that there is wide voter fraud. Now, here was a chance for someone, under oath, who was familiar with the issue and had a research budget, to prove the case.

Unfortunately, in his home state of Kansas, Kobach has never been able to find but nine cases of voter fraud—none of which, incidentally, would have been prevented by his proposals for voter identification and other remedies. In a state with a voting age population of 1,105,921, that means Kansas has a state voter fraud rate of just 0.0008.

So what did Judge Robinson find after Koback presented all his evidence?

“The court finds no credible evidence that a substantial number of noncitizens registered to vote under the attestation regime,” the judge wrote. “He has submitted evidence of 129 instances of noncitizen registration or attempted registration since 1999, but looking closely at those records reduces that number to 67 at most. Even these 67 instances are a liberal estimate because it includes attempted registrations after the … law was passed, a larger universe than what the Tenth Circuit asked the court to evaluate. Only 39 successfully registered to vote. And several of the individual records of those who registered or attempted to register show errors on the part of state employees, and/or confusion on the part of applicants. They do not evidence intentional fraud.”

This was the laboratory-ideal setting in which GOP officials could prove their case. And it was not done. This should be a message to officials, like Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, who keep saying there is a major fraud problem. The problem that can be solved by voter identification laws is a political problem suffered by Republicans. Voter fraud is an infintesimal problem.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an average of 51 people are struck by lightning annually in the United States. As best we can tell, that is higher than the number of cases of voter fraud. So knock off the voter ID crap.