Our VoiceNews & Politics

Kansas Sec’y of State Works to Spread Voter Suppression Measures


Jill Garvey • Nov 05, 2012

In the final weeks of October, most Secretaries of State were busy preparing to administer the election in their respective states. Ensuring a fair and well-functioning voting process for their constituents is ostensibly the most important priority for most Secretaries, certainly leading up to a presidential election that is by all accounts tight.

But Kansas’s Secretary of State Kris Kobach seems to have other priorities. On October 24 Kobach participated in a ‘Show-Me Voter ID Tour.’ Not in Kansas but in neighboring Missouri.

Why was Kobach traveling around another state instead of doing his job? He was stumping in support of Republican Secretary of State Candidate Shane Schoeller. If elected, Schoeller is planning to introduce a voter ID law similar to the one Kobach helped pass in Kansas. A hardcore nativist with ties to the controversial Tanton Network, Kobach spearheaded a voter ID measure in the state and rushed its implementation.

Advocates of voting rights argue that Voter ID laws amount to nothing more than voter suppression. The Village Voice reported that 41 states are trying or have succeeded in making it more difficult to register and vote this November. NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice estimates that millions of voters could be turned away at the polls.

Sunflower Community Action, a grassroots organization that works for racial and economic equity, says the state is ill-prepared to ensure poor, elderly, minority and transient Kansans have convenient access to documents and ID cards that will allow them to cast a ballot in elections this year. Kansas residents have become increasingly alarmed by Kobach’s antics. And reports that the state is ill-equipped to ensure a smooth election in light of harsh voter ID requirements are rampant. Rather than spend his time and energy improving the state, Kobach is hell-bent on exporting his controversial measures to neighboring states and beyond.

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