Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach encouraged Kansans to register and turn out for this fall’s election.
Kobach said Wednesday was a timely National Voter Registration Day since local elections in Kansas will take place in November for the first time. He said his office would do TV and radio announcements to remind people to register in time to vote.
“It’s a big test … This is going to be a really interesting election coming up on Nov. 7,” Kobach said. “What we don’t yet know is how much will it boost participation. What I’m asking voters to do is prove us right.”
Kobach, who is also running for governor, said there wasn’t a lot of national data on how the change could affect turnout. He also said turnout from primaries in August provides limited insight because it varies widely depending on how competitive races are.
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“Primaries are really hard to compare,” Kobach said. “You don’t get apples to apples comparisons very much.”
Kobach said moving city and school elections from the spring to the fall of odd-numbered years was needed because “participation has been so low in local elections.”
“People associate early November with voting as opposed to early April,” Kobach said. “When you add all of the reasons together for making this change, that was the number one driving factor: Let’s try to make it easier for people to vote.”
Kobach also defended a number of policies he has championed that critics believe make it more difficult to vote. He touted his ability to prosecute voter fraud cases and called Kansas the leading state advocating for voter requirements like photo ID and proof-of-citizenship.
He added that a photo ID requirement to register “stops the creation of a fictitious identity and voting that identity.”
“My objective … is to make it easy to vote but hard to cheat,” he said. “Those are completely compatible goals.”
Kobach said a national effort by the American Civil Liberties Union to change voting laws would not be “very fruitful” in Kansas.
“I doubt they’ll persuade the Kansas Legislature to get rid of photo ID or proof-of-citizenship,” he said.
Kobach touted high rates of voter registration in the Sunflower State. Kansas had 1.8 million registered voters of 2.2 million citizens of voting age last November, according to a secretary of state’s office news release.
Oct. 17 is the registration deadline for the Nov. 7 general election.