A couple of weeks ago newly elected Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach unveiled his new plan to eliminate voter fraud in Kansas. A video of him explaining it can be found here. He ran his entire campaign on this issue. The plan would require voters to show a government-issued photo i.d. when they went to vote. Government issued I.D.s range from a driver’s license or passport to state university issued I.D. cards as long as they have a picture. This provision seems reasonable enough. It turns out only 2 other states have such a requirement. Why so few? The issue is much more complicated than it appears on the surface.
Mike Hendricks points out some of these in an editorial in the Kansas City Star. Kansas is not a state of large cities. Most Kansas residents do need a driver’s license just to get around, but not all. The elderly are a good example. When I was 17 I met a very interesting lady. Her name was Francis J. Koppers. She was 99 years old. I was a cashier at the local hardware store. Mrs. Koppers walked up to my register with a woman who I assume was her daughter, and wanted to pay for her purchase with a check. I asked for her driver’s license, because I was supposed to. It didn’t cross my mind that I was speaking to a very elderly woman. She looked me in the eyes and said, “Oh dear, I haven’t driven a car in 30 years.” I didn’t know what to do. It turns out that Mrs. Koppers was just giving me a hard time. She had a state issued I.D. It isn’t hard to see why she wouldn’t though. This was a woman who was 2 months short of her centennial birthday. She was born in 1899. She was older than the automobile itself. She still had the right to vote, though.
There is an even larger point here. Mr. Kobach’s intentions seem less than justified. He admits that only one case of voter fraud has been prosecuted since 2000. He says that’s because of a lack of resources among local prosecutors. I would question whether it doesn’t have to do with a lack of evidence. Mr. Kobach’s record would point to the fact that he is more xenophobic than righteous. He was a major architect of the controversial immigration law passed in Arizona last year. I understand that Mr. Kobach may want to prevent people from voting who do not have the right, but I don’t feel it’s that big of a problem. Republicans won every statewide office in the 2010 election. Remarkably the numbers were the same. Every election ended roughly 60-40. People weren’t even voting for candidates. They were voting for parties, and this time around Republicans were on the winning side.
Mr. Kobach’s problem is that he wants to win, no matter what. He is willing to spread a myth that voter fraud is a widespread problem when it is not. He knew that the Tea Party was in full swing. America’s fear of illegal immigrants and Muslims is at an all time high. White America is scared from the overblown media coverage of a rising minority population, and a growing Chinese economy. He knew he could use that to further his own extreme agenda. Mr. Kobach’s history points to a desire to keep white America where it is, on the top. It points to an attitude that minorities are always acting against the interest and values of this country. In this op-ed in the Wichita Eagle, Mr. Kobach argues that voter fraud is not generally motivated by financial incentive but a corrupt desire for power. I doubt Kris Kobach has ever encouraged voter fraud, but politics can be a game of a different kind of fraud. A “corrupt desire for power” is something that perennial candidate Kobach should think about.