Kansan Kris Kobach is a man who wears many hats. He’s running for governor in Kansas, he’s a paid columnist at white supremacist lovin’ Breitbart, he’s the architect of the most racist law in modern American history, he is actively and aggressively working to deport DACA enrollees and their families, he is the Kansas secretary of state (worst in the nation) and last, but not least, Kobach leads Trump’s so-called “Election integrity” commission, a sham commission that is nothing more than a large scale effort to suppress the vote nationwide, taking away people’s Constitutional right to vote—something he’s done very effectively in Kansas.
Yesterday, Kobach offered up his latest paid column at Breitbart and made the incredible claim that there were roughly 5,313 potentially illegal voters in New Hampshire during the 2016 election, enough to “steal” four electoral votes and cost the GOP a seat in the U.S. Senate. Here’s the gist of his argument. You can Google if you want to see the source, but let’s not reward that craptastic site with a click, mmkay?
According to statistics released by the Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, on the date of the general election in November 2016, there were 6,540 same-day registrants who registered to vote in New Hampshire using an out-of-state driver’s license to prove their identity. In and of itself, that doesn’t prove that any fraud occurred – theoretically, each of those individuals could have been someone who recently moved to the State and had not yet had time to get a New Hampshire driver’s license. According to New Hampshire law, a new resident has 60 days to obtain a New Hampshire driver’s license.
So if those 6,540 voters were bona fide New Hampshire residents, they would get their driver’s license no later than January 7, 2017. However, the numbers tell a very different story. It turns out that, as of August 30, 2017 – nearly ten months after the election – only 1,014 of the 6,540 same-day registrants who registered with an out-of-state license had obtained a New Hampshire driver’s license. The other 5,526 individuals never obtained a New Hampshire driver’s license. And, of those 5,526, only 213 registered a vehicle in New Hampshire.
So 5,313 of those voters neither obtained a New Hampshire driver’s license nor registered a vehicle in New Hampshire. They have not followed the legal requirements for residents regarding driver’s licenses, and it appears that they are not actually residing in New Hampshire. It seems that they never were bona fide residents of the State.
Every single way you slice this, Kobach is wrong. Dead wrong. Let’s start with this important point from Dale Ho, the director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project:
Right off the bat, Kobach’s premise that these 5,000+ voters broke the law is completely false and was widely ridiculed by voting rights experts like Ari Berman.
Dave Weigel of the Washington Post took it a step further and contacted some of the allegedly illegal voters. In less than an hour, he confirmed that these were in fact college students:
Patrick Derenze, 22, said that he voted with a New York ID, and was unaware of any New Hampshire law that required voters to change their licenses after voting.
“I was a student at Saint Anselm College in Manchester until I graduated this past May, and because I spent most of my time in the state I felt it was right I vote there instead of my native state of New York,” Derenze said.
Alexander J. Rounaghi, 19, used his California ID to vote while studying at Dartmouth. “I lived in New Hampshire then, and I’ll live there again when I’m back from summer vacation,” he explained.
Jonah Cohen, 20, was also studying at Dartmouth when he used his New York ID to vote in New Hampshire’s 2016 election. “I’ve since transferred to Columbia, so I won’t be voting in New Hampshire anymore, but I haven’t changed my registration yet,” he explained. “I did not end up getting a N.H. license, but I never needed one to vote.”
Here’s why Kris Kobach is quite possibly the most dangerous threat to our democratic process as we know it. He’s creating doubt about those 5,000 legal voters in New Hampshire. As he points out, this is enough to swing the election in New Hampshire. He’s been cutting his teeth on massive voter suppression and election swinging in Kansas. In the 2014 election, he found a way to put an astonishing 35,000 voters on a suspended voter list by saying they had not proved they were citizens of the United States:
And if you look at that suspended voter list in Kansas, which at some points in time has had over 35,000 voters on it, over half of the voters are under 35 and nearly all are first-time registrants ’cause, as I said, it only applies to people who are trying to register after 2013. So these are much more likely to be younger people and much more likely to be new registrants.
GROSS: So why do critics of this law perceive it to have a built in political bias?
BERMAN: Well, if you look at what the law is doing is it’s basically freezing the existing electorate in place by making it harder for new registrants to be able to register to vote. So freezing the electorate in place in a state like Kansas benefits Republicans ’cause Republicans were already in control there. Younger voters in Kansas who are much more likely to be impacted by this law are more likely to be Democratic voters, they’re more likely to be independent-leaning or unaffiliated voters.
They’re less likely to be core Republican voters who might cast a ballot for someone like Kris Kobach.
Boom. That’s the goal. In the case of the 2014 election, Sam Brownback defeated Democrat Paul Davis by roughly 33,000 votes. There is no evidence Davis could’ve pulled out a victory even without Kobach’s voter suppression scheme, but you can see how dangerous Kobach’s schemes could be nationwide. His proof-of-citizenship law even prevented organizations who traditionally work to register voters from even making an effort:
The law made it almost impossible for groups like the League of Women Voters to register voters in Kansas. After the proof-of-citizenship law went into effect in 2013, almost all the local chapters of the League of Women Voters had to suspend their operation because, as I said earlier, people were not carrying around birth certificates or passports or naturalization papers with them when the League of Women Voters was trying to do registration drives outside a farmer’s market.
And moreover, the League of Women Voters didn’t want to have to handle this highly sensitive information. So for example, the Wichita chapter of the League of Women Voters registered 4,000 voters in 2012. But after the proof-of-citizenship law went into effect, they only registered 400 voters in 2014. And that was just one example of the kind of impact this law had.
In 2016, he attempted to prevent 17,000 Kansans from voting by creating a “dual voting system.” In short, Kobach and his Republican enablers in Kansas tried to create the strictest voting requirements in the country, each citizen would be required to prove they are U.S. citizens. When that bucked up against federal law, they said, okay! The voters on his list could vote in federal elections but not be able to cast a valid vote in their own state of Kansas. A Kansas judge stopped Kobach in his tracks:
A Shawnee County judge has ruled that 17,500 voters can have their votes counted in state and local races as well as federal ones in Tuesday’s Kansas primary election.
“Losing one’s vote is an irreparable harm in my opinion,” Judge Larry Hendricks said in his ruling Friday.
The judge noted these 17,500 voters were in danger of losing their Constitutional right to vote:
Hendricks said Friday that Kobach lacks the authority to create a dual voting system. He issued a temporary order blocking the rule, ensuring that all of these voters’ votes will be counted.
Hendricks said the state does have an interest in preventing non-citizens from voting, but that those interests “do not outweigh the rights” of the “overwhelming number of U.S. citizens that will lose the constitutional right to vote” under Kobach’s rule.
Kobach also runs the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck (IVRC) program, a database meant to identify people who may be registered in multiple states. Crosscheck conveniently flags names more common among minority communities:
We had Mark Swedlund, a database expert whose clients include eBay and American Express, look at the data from Georgia and Virginia, and he was shocked by Crosscheck’s “childish methodology.” He added, “God forbid your name is Garcia, of which there are 858,000 in the U.S., and your first name is Joseph or Jose. You’re probably suspected of voting in 27 states.”
Swedlund’s statistical analysis found that African-American, Latino and Asian names predominate, a simple result of the Crosscheck matching process, which spews out little more than a bunch of common names. No surprise: The U.S. Census data shows that minorities are overrepresented in 85 of 100 of the most common last names. If your name is Washington, there’s an 89 percent chance you’re African-American. If your last name is Hernandez, there’s a 94 percent chance you’re Hispanic. If your name is Kim, there’s a 95 percent chance you’re Asian.
This inherent bias results in an astonishing one in six Hispanics, one in seven Asian-Americans and one in nine African-Americans in Crosscheck states landing on the list. Was the program designed to target voters of color? “I’m a data guy,” Swedlund says. “I can’t tell you what the intent was. I can only tell you what the outcome is. And the outcome is discriminatory against minorities.”
And this is the man Donald Trump selected to lead his “election integrity” commission. Make no mistake about it, Kris Kobach is dangerous. His sole purpose, his life’s work, is suppressing minority votes in Kansas and across the country. He simply has to be stopped. The 2018 midterm election will be a critical test of our democracy. It will be an all hands on deck effort to register voters, get out the vote and fight Kobach’s unconstitutional voter suppression challenges in every corner and county in this country. No exaggeration, the future of our nation truly depends on it.