By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
Voter fraud is a part of the history of the state of Kansas, according to Kris Kobach, and he believes it is time to put a stop to it.
Along with his fellow candidate for secretary of state, J.R. Claeys, Kobach was in Liberal Saturday at the Mid-America Air Museum at a forum co-sponsored by We the People and November Patriots. The two are just a pair of five candidates running for Kansas Secretary of State, including current secretary Chris Biggs.
During a final campaign stop before Tuesday’s primary election, both candidates gave their qualifications for their job and some of the priorities they will take on if elected.
Kobach currently works as a law professor, teaching constitutional law, legislation and immigration law, and he formerly served in the U.S. Department of Justice.
“More recently, in addition to my job as a law professor, I’ve been defending cities and states around the country that are being sued by the ACLU,” he said. “I defend them where they have passed laws to stop illegal immigration within their jurisdiction.”
In this capacity, Kobach recently helped co-author an anti-immigration law for the state of Arizona, and he now serves on the goveror’s defense team defending the law against the Obama administration.
Kobach said one important item to remember about the secretary of state’s office is defending against the breakdown of the rule of law.
“Whether it’s illegal immigration or the secretary of state’s office, which is our number one defender against voter fraud, there are people and organizations like the ACLU, which would like to see nothing more than the rule of law break down for political gain,” he said.
Kobach said voter fraud and illegal immigration do have overlapping areas.
“My objective as secretary of state is for Kansas to take such an important and significant step stopping voter fraud that people will see Kansas as the number one state in stopping voter fraud, and they will follow the Kansas model,” he said.
Kobach explained the role of voter fraud in Kansas history.
“When you think about the first chapter of Kansas history, Bleeding Kansas, it wasn’t just about border ruckings coming in from Missouri to pillage, plunder and attack Lawrence,” he said. “The first part of that first chapter was during the decade of popular sovereignty, where we decided whether the state would be a slave state or a free state based on the vote of the people. They came in to stuff the ballot boxes.”
Likewise, Kobach said Kansas could not become a free state until the problem of voter fraud was solved, and he said the issue continues to plague the state today.
“The secretary of state’s office acknowledges that 11 counties between 2000 and 2007 had instances of voter fraud,” he said. “There’s a problem, and the problem’s not being addressed right now.”
Kobach said the first priority is to institute use of photo ID at polling places.
“It’s not any imposition,” he said.
Kobach said two additional steps are requiring proof of citizenship and prosecuting cases of voter fraud, and he said this is where his experience in law enforcement helps.
“I served as counsel to the U.S. Attorney General through the Department of Justice back when the Justice Department was actually going after voter fraud,” he said.
Kobach said being in favor of the use of photo ID is not enough to stop voter fraud.
“You have to be able to make it stick,” he said. “We have to get it done and make it stick.”
Following Kobach’s statement, Claeys provided his background and priorities to the crowd on hand. Claeys is a fifth generation Kansan, who graduated from Kansas State University in Manhattan. From there, he went to work nationally raising funds for the Republican National Committee in Washington, D.C.
“I went on to work with the National Small Business Association and as the CEO of the National Association of Government Contractors, an organization that represents about 120,000 small businesses across the country,” he said.
The secretary of state’s office has many statutory duties, including administering elections, but Claeys said much of the work in the office has to do with working with businesses in the state.
“That means that your secretary of state, every time we want to implement a new program and spend another dollar, we have to get it from a small business that we’re charging a fee to,” he said.
Claeys said, however, the most important service of the office is in the capacity of the state’s chief election officer. He said he has seen countries that use photo identification for elections, as well as the different types of voter fraud that exist around the world.
“I’ve actually had the opportunity to stop a foreign national from voting in an election,” he said. “I’ve been on the ground to prevent voter fraud in an election.”
Understanding how voter fraud is done and the types of it that exist is important to serving as secretary of state, according to Claeys.
“We need a secretary of state who’s on the lookout for voter fraud in all of its forms, but also someone who’s looking out for efficiency in elections,” he said.