Kobach and Voter Fraud

Via Politico (back in May): ‘Kris Kobach Came After Me for an Honest Mistake’

When Kris Kobach, Kansas’ aggressive secretary of state, convinced the state legislature to give him prosecutorial power to pursue voter fraud, he said it was necessary to root out tens of thousands of undocumented aliens who were voting as well as tens of thousands more who he claimed were voting in two states.

Two years later, Kobach has produced exactly nine convictions.

Two of those cases profiled in the piece were people living near state borders voting in both states.  In terms of both the numbers in question, as well as the crimes committed, this is infinitesimal stuff.

When it comes to what motivates Kobach, an NYT Magazne profile (The Man Behind Trump’s Voter-Fraud Obsession) from Junes notes:

For Kobach, the question of citizenship, and who has a rightful claim to it, is at the heart of his lawsuits and legislation. Years before Donald Trump began talking about building a wall, the fate of America’s white majority was a matter of considerable interest to Kobach, who once agreed with a caller to his radio show that a rise in Latino immigration could lead to the “ethnic cleansing” of whites and has written scores of laws across the country to crack down on undocumented immigration. He told The Associated Press in May that he met Trump through his son Donald Trump Jr., with whom he has a mutual friend. Kobach has since become close to the White House inner circle, including the president and his chief strategist, Steve Bannon. Two weeks after the election, Kobach met with Trump at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., where the president-elect was auditioning potential members of his cabinet before the press, and was photographed holding a white paper outlining a “Kobach Strategic Plan for First 365 Days.” Though partly obscured, what could be read of the document was a bullet-pointed wish-list of right-wing policies that included “extreme vetting” and tracking of “all aliens from high-risk areas,” reducing “intake of Syrian refugees to zero,” deporting a “record number of criminal aliens in the first year” and the “rapid build” of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.


Kobach’s plans represent a radical reordering of American priorities. They would help preserve Republican majorities. But they could also reduce the size and influence of the country’s nonwhite population. For years, Republicans have used racially coded appeals to white voters as a means to win elections. Kobach has inverted the priorities, using elections, and advocating voting restrictions that make it easier for Republicans to win them, as the vehicle for implementing policies that protect the interests and aims of a shrinking white majority. This has made him one of the leading intellectual architects of a new nativist movement that is rapidly gaining influence not just in the United States but across the globe.

Side tidbit given the recent shake-up in the WH:  “The Wall Street Journal reported in January that John Kelly, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, had balked at making Kobach his deputy. “

The entire profile is worth a read if you missed it (as did I) when it was first published.  It remains quite relevant given the president’s commission on voting.

FILED UNDER: US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I hadn’t read that Politico piece, but that is (to put it nildly) troublesome. If it can not differentiate between active and inactive registrations, anyone who moved across state lines could be captured. I have been registered in five different states in my adult life (MA, CT, NJ, GA, TX) and I am not aware of any mechanisms to proactively inform a state that you no longer intend to vote in that state. Additionally, my name is incredibly common (not John Smith, or Maria Garcia, but close). From a pure probability standpoint, there is at least one other person that is a first / last / DOB match out there.

  2. gVOR08 says:

    Anytime I’ve mentioned to a Tea Party type that in-person vote fraud is vanishingly rare, the response has been that one case is too many, it must be rooted out.

    I read that Kelly has been a big supporter of The Wall, so a) I don’t know why he and Kobach aren’t simpatico, and b) I have to question whether Kelly is the hard headed realist people seem to want to believe he is.

  3. Mr. Prosser says:

    Read earlier today that Kobach may be put up as Kelly’s replacement at DHS. Verrry interesting

  4. Franklin says:


    Anytime I’ve mentioned to a Tea Party type that in-person vote fraud is vanishingly rare, the response has been that one case is too many, it must be rooted out.

    Did you ask how much money they wanted to spend per case?

  5. @Mr. Prosser: Not the word I would use…

  6. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Franklin: I have; the answer I got was “whatever is necessary.” It’s almost as if deficits don’t matter.

  7. Mr. Prosser says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I should have included a picture of Arte Johnson from Laugh-In, sorry

  8. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Franklin: The same amount of money they want to spend drug testing every welfare recipient, over and over and over again.

  9. Franklin says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker: Mmm, I see. Your associate doesn’t seem very smart, no offense.

  10. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Franklin: In the wake of this election, I have given up expecting people to be smart. No offense taken.