Contempt for the process; voter suppression efforts lose again


(Terre Haute) Tribune-Star

Kris Kobach, a hero to vote suppressors across the land, has tripped himself up again. Recently, a federal judge in Kansas charged him with contempt of court for failing to do what a U.S. District Court instructed him to do.

Kobach is a familiar name to those who followed the odd effort by the Trump administration to clamp down on so-called voter fraud. The president claimed that millions of illegal voters cast ballots in California in the 2016 election, and that’s what cost him the popular vote, which he lost by almost 3 million votes. (President Trump won in the Electoral College on the strength of narrow victories in Pennsylvania and several upper Midwestern states.)

The commission formed by Trump with Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, as its co-chair didn’t last long. It became obvious early on that no evidence existed of any widespread voter fraud across the country. Many states, including Indiana, declined to provide requested intrusive information from voter registration lists that did not already exist as public record. Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson was an appointed member of the commission but sided with those who would not relinquish sensitive voter information.

When it became apparent to the Trump administration that the commission had been stymied even by its allies, the commission was disbanded.

The contempt citation stems from a case that had been previously decided. According to The New York Times, a Kansas law in effect since 2013 required proof of citizenship to register to vote. It was one of the strictest such laws in the country. In May 2016, Kobach lost an ACLU challenge to the law and the judge ordered him to notify people who had tried to register while renewing or applying for a driver’s license that they were indeed eligible to vote.

Kobach did not ensure that the ruling was followed even though he told the court he had done so.

The judge did not impose sanctions, but ordered Kobach to pay the ACLU’s legal fees.

Kobach, a Republican candidate for governor in Kansas, has a history of being rebuked by courts in his efforts to place more restrictions on the voting process. He was previously fined $1,000 by a court for deceptive conduct.

Voter suppression efforts are real and ongoing. Kobach is exhibit A. While in the courts of law and public opinion such suppression is being increasingly met with challenges and resistance, vigilance is required to maintain a strong stand against those forces.

The federal judge in Kansas made it clear such shenanigans won’t be tolerated. The American voting process is sacred and must be protected from those who attempt to restrict or manipulate it for political gain.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to [email protected].

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