Politics & Government

Kobach: Those leaving voter rolls could be part of political stunt

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach speaks to supporters last month in Lenexa.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach speaks to supporters last month in Lenexa. Associated Press

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has responded to reports that some voters are withdrawing their registration in the wake of his nationwide request for voter information by suggesting they could be involved in a political stunt.

More than 3,000 people have withdrawn their registration in Colorado, according to news reports there. And there are reports of withdrawals in other parts of the country as well.

In Kansas, some local election offices have received phone calls in recent weeks from voters seeking to cancel their voter registrations as a way to avoid being included in the data collection out of privacy concerns.

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Kobach, who is running for Kansas governor, spoke Thursday to Breitbart News Daily, a SiriusXM Satellite Radio show, where he was asked about the Colorado registration withdrawals. He talked about potential causes before appearing to acknowledge he does not know.

“It’s interesting. It could be a number of things. It could be, actually, people who are not qualified to vote, perhaps someone who is a felon and is disqualified that way, or someone who is not a U.S. citizen saying, ‘I’m withdrawing my voter registration because I am not able to vote.’ It could be a political stunt – people who are trying to discredit the commission and withdrawing temporarily because they are politically active but planning to get back on the voter rolls before the election next November,” Kobach said.

“Who knows what’s causing it, but the fact that just studying the issue of voter fraud has tapped such a raw nerve among these organizations like the ACLU tells you that they really, really don’t want a presidential commission finding out what there is to see.”

Kobach asked all 50 states in June for voter information as vice chair of President Donald Trump’s Election Integrity Commission. He is seeking names, birthdates, Social Security information and other data.

Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita, is a frequent Kobach critic. He said there is no evidence to support the secretary’s speculation.

Those who are taking themselves off the voter rolls are fearful, he said.

“They’re afraid our secretary of state in conjunction with the president is building a national database as part of his ongoing campaign against immigrants and other people who don’t look like the same white man in the mirror the president and secretary sees,” Carmichael said.

Kobach has steadfastly rebutted allegations of racism. “It’s just so sad that term’s being used just to describe someone who’s a conservative,” he told The Eagle in 2015.

The commission faces multiple federal lawsuits challenging his request. On Monday, Kobach said in a court filing that the commission has asked states to hold off on providing the data for now.

More than a dozen states have refused to fulfill the request and others have said they will only provide partial data.

Colorado, where reports of voter withdrawals are concentrated, plans to provide the information.

“We will provide publicly available information on the voter file, which is all they have asked for,” Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams said in a statement.

Contributing: Bryan Lowry and Hunter Woodall of the Kansas City Star

Jonathan Shorman: 785-296-3006, @jonshorman