Opinion Columns & Blogs

Marching on against voter inequities

Kris Kobach’s Secretary of State’s office was sued a second time by the ACLU, this time over the Crosscheck system that looks for dual voter registrations nationwide.
Kris Kobach’s Secretary of State’s office was sued a second time by the ACLU, this time over the Crosscheck system that looks for dual voter registrations nationwide. AP

The ACLU of Kansas received a wave of questions regarding the timing of Monday’s favorable federal court ruling and our Tuesday filing against Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s failed Crosscheck program.

Certainly, we couldn’t have predicted the arrival of Judge Julie Robinson’s ruling and we had been working on our Crosscheck suit for weeks.

But make no mistake. This second suit isn’t some flimsy filing or piling on. Kobach’s dangerous policies deserve constant vigilance. His office is a menace to civil rights and civil liberties everywhere.

In the same way firefighters rush to fires, the ACLU of Kansas rolls lights and sirens to attacks on civil liberties and civil rights and the policies Kobach pursues constitute, in technical terms, a dumpster fire.

Our focus on his policies is very much in proportion to the menace they represent. Kobach’s reckless violation of privacy of Kansas citizens through Crosscheck, and his brazenly unconstitutional restrictions on the right to vote are an affront to the Constitution and our shared values as Americans.

Doubt it?

Consider that Kobach’s Crosscheck program, supposedly designed to identify individuals registered in more than one state, incorrectly identifies double registrants at a 99 percent rate. Worse, Kobach’s office then shuttles names, birthdates, partial Social Security numbers, and signatures to other states via insecure methods, exposing Kansas voters – Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike – to identity theft.

The Secretary of State may as well have posted the names and personal information of Kansas voters on the side of a truck and driven through all of participating Crosscheck states.

His response?

No one has hacked into this system yet, so we need not worry.

Consider also that his “show me your papers” voter registration law, until this week, was the most restrictive and burdensome in the entire country. Judge Robinson, appointed by George W. Bush, struck down the law that had disenfranchised some 35,000 eligible citizens.

Just reflect for a moment on the costs of Kobach’s agenda. Consider the toll, and not just the monetary costs to taxpayers for all of the legal fees and fines he has racked up.

The real cost of his policies has been thousands of disenfranchised citizens and a weakened democracy; thousands of Kansas voters still unaware their personal information has been compromised; embarrassment to the state on a national scale as our Secretary of State was literally sent back to school for remedial learning; an undermining of our shared values of equality, freedom, and justice.

The ACLU of Kansas has no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, only the permanent interest of defending the rights and freedoms inherited by every citizen under the Constitution.

One thing is clear – we can’t and will not let Kobach’s attacks on our rights go unanswered. The price of freedom is constant vigilance.

Micah Kubic is executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas.