Politics & Government

Emails show Kobach crafting changes to federal voting law after Trump win

The day after the presidential election, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach Kobach was already preparing changes to the National Voter Registration Act, emails contained in court filings on Friday show.
The day after the presidential election, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach Kobach was already preparing changes to the National Voter Registration Act, emails contained in court filings on Friday show.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was developing federal legislation immediately after the November election to “make clear” that proof of citizenship voter registration requirements – like what Kansas has – would be permitted nationwide.

Emails contained in court filings on Friday show that the day after the presidential election Kobach was already preparing changes to the National Voter Registration Act, commonly called the motor voter law, for the future administration of President Donald Trump.

Kobach, who announced a bid for Kansas governor in June, began a Nov. 9 email by referencing draft legislation for submission to Congress early in the Trump administration.

“I have already started regarding amendments to the NVRA to make clear that proof of citizenship requirements are permitted (based on my ongoing litigation with the ACLU over this), as well as legislation to stop the dozen states that are providing instate tuition to illegal aliens in violation of (federal law),” Kobach wrote.

Kobach was writing to Gene Hamilton, who was part of Trump’s transition team. Hamilton wrote back the next morning to say Kobach needed to get the drafts together “sooner rather than later.”

The emails were attached as an exhibit in an ACLU filing in an ongoing lawsuit brought by the organization against Kobach and Kansas’ requirement that voters provide proof of citizenship to register to vote. The Huffington Post first reported on the emails on Saturday.

In recent months, the lawsuit has focused on an attempt by the ACLU to force disclosure of a document Kobach brought into a post-election meeting with Trump. Kobach was photographed taking the document into the meeting.

The photograph showed that the document included a reference to voter rolls. The ACLU said that if Kobach lobbied Trump on changes to the National Voter Registration Act, the documents may contain material relevant to the lawsuit.

The Kobach email attached in court documents on Friday shows he was working on amendments to the NVRA. The email exchange took place about a week and a half before Kobach’s meeting with Trump.

In another exhibit filed as part of court documents, Kobach’s attorney, Garrett Roe, appears to indicate in a July 7, 2017, email that Kobach has not sent a draft of changes to the NVRA but might in the future.

A spokeswoman for Kobach did not immediately respond to a question on Saturday.

Kobach also faces criticism over a request he sent to all 50 states seeking voter information in his role as vice chair of Trump’s Election Integrity Commission. He is seeking the names, dates of birth and Social Security information of voters as well as other data.

More than a dozen states have refused to comply, and others are providing partial information.

The commission and the request face legal action, including from the ACLU. The organization noted on Friday that since its lawsuit, the commission has created a website and disclosed other documents.

“Given the resounding public outcry over the commission’s overreaching request for the personal data of every registered voter in the country, as well the multiple legal actions which ensued, we are not surprised that the commission is making an attempt at course correction,” Sophia Lin Lakin, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement.

“The concessions we have already gained from the commission represent an important victory for public accountability.”

In an interview Thursday on Breitbart News Daily, a satellite radio show, Kobach slammed efforts to thwart the commission.

“It’s truly extraordinary that they are trying to stop the commission from even beginning. These lawsuits are intended to stop the gathering of data and stop the meeting of the commission. It does make you think that some people out there don’t want us to see what amount of voter fraud there is,” Kobach said.

Trump has said that millions of illegal votes cast by noncitizens tipped the popular vote in the 2016 election to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton despite his victory in the Electoral College. That statement has not been verified.

Kobach and the commission also faced criticism this week after the White House released public comments about the commission, along with the email addresses and other contact information of those commenting.

The commission’s White House page says that the commission “may post such written comments … including names and contact information that are submitted.”

Jonathan Shorman: 785-296-3006, @jonshorman