Kris Kobach, the Republican secretary of state in Kansas, has spent a good portion of his political career defending the "purity" of the election process. Kobach has been involved in numerous voting reform schemes, defending his ideas as making it “easy to vote but hard to cheat."
This past week's events in the U.S. Senate race in Kansas call into question Kobach's commitment to eliminating "cheating" from the electoral process.
On September 18, the Kansas Supreme court ruled that Chad Taylor (D) would be removed from the November ballot. As reported on IVN, Kobach challenged Taylor's withdrawal from the race -- citing that it did not contain specific verbiage that (in his opinion) was required by Kansas law. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled against Kobach, citing that Taylor's request was properly formatted and worded correctly.
Immediately after the court's decision was announced, Kobach stated that he would delay the printing of ballots for 8 days to allow the Democratic Party of Kansas time to name a new candidate -- this change would have been a direct violation of the MOVE Act, which is designed to protect the voting rights of absentee voters and military personnel currently abroad.
Kobach backtracked on these statements the next day and the overseas ballots were sent out by the deadline (Sept. 20) without a Democratic candidate on the ballot.
However, the story doesn't end there. In a statement tantamount to reserving the right to break federal election law at a later date, included in the overseas ballots was a statement that a replacement ballot would be sent out if the courts found that the Democrats had to add a candidate to the ballot.The MOVE Act is an absolute -- overseas ballots must be sent no later than 45 days prior to the election
and the ballots must have identical candidates as those used in the general election. This has the net result of "locking-in" the candidates 45 days prior to the election.
The potential of having two sets of ballots creates any number of voting nightmares. Would the first set be honored if a second set is created? What if someone was confused and voted twice? What if a person voted for different candidates on different ballots?
While some might dismiss such concerns, history tells us otherwise. Everything from "hanging chads" to increased ballot "security" has been used for only one effect -- disenfranchisement.
What is the precedent that is being set here? Would other ballot issues or candidates be subject to change on this or future ballots due to emergencies (or political convenience). For instance, what if a candidate died?
Once you start down the slippery path of declaring that a deadline isn't really a deadline, the reasons for amending the deadline become almost limitless.
Several states have faced the issue of emergency issues that could fundamentally alter the ballot, and almost all have honored the principle of a ballot being finalized once the deadline is past.
One of the rarer examples, for instance, was the 2000 posthumous election of Mel Carnahan to the U.S. Senate when it was ruled that the ballot in Missouri wouldn't be changed even because of the death of the candidate.
Kris Kobach has pushed his version of protecting the vote all over the United States. When faced with the biggest voting challenge of his career, he chose to take the most partisan and least secure option possible.
Photo Source: AP