Thanks to Kobach, Trump and conservative think tank, we know extent of voter fraud

We Kansans owe Kris Kobach warm thanks for his greatest triumph: He proved that voter fraud is virtually nonexistent in our state. He achieved that by fiercely striving to prove the opposite.

In 2010 he got himself elected as Kansas secretary of state, then won legislative authority to prosecute illegal voters — a power no equivalent state official elsewhere holds.

He secured a 2013 law requiring that those registering to vote prove they are American citizens. His bar to voting was among the most severe in the nation until overruled in federal court.

Kobach recently filed to run for Kansas attorney general in the next election.

So how many fraudulent voters did Kobach’s dragnet convict during his eight-year tenure in office? Just nine. Nine convictions in a state with nearly 2 million registered voters. Among those were older citizens who mistakenly voted in two different places where they owned property.

A college student filled out an absentee ballot for her home state before voting months later in Kansas, both times for Trump. Steve Watkins, a former Republican congressman, was charged with three felony voting offenses and got off with diversion.

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, supports the arguments of Donald Trump and Kobach. Going back as far as 2005, Heritage lists 15 convictions for voter infractions in Kansas, presumably including those from the Kobach era. Over 15 years, one offense per year.

The Heritage website also reports 1,322 “proven instances of voter fraud” in the United States since the early 1980s. How could America have passed 40 years with a measly 1,322 proven instances of voter fraud? Among our 168 million registered voters?

Both for Kansas and the nation, the rate of fraud has been less than one one-thousandth of 1%. Would that we religious Americans sinned at such a microscopic rate.

Fully armed, Trump, Kobach and the Heritage Foundation marched out on an elephant hunt and bagged a gnat.

But, see, there must be horrendous voter fraud. Otherwise, how can Republicans defend their gerrymandering of voting districts so they win even when they lose? How can they defend suppression of votes from minorities, the elderly and young people?

Only fraud can justify shutting down polling places, banning drop boxes, cutting short mail voting and requiring notary public signatures on such ballots — make it, in other words, very hard for certain people to vote.

Here’s another high-flying way they strive to overcome “fraud.” The U.S. president telephones the Georgia secretary of state and says: “So, look…I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state…And there’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, that you’ve recalculated.”

But what if the man answers: “Well, Mr. President…the data you have is wrong”? Then direct threats are necessary. “You know, that’s a criminal,” says the president, “that’s a criminal offense….”

Then there’s the oft-repeated claim by Kobach and others that undocumented immigrants swarm to the polls and elect Democrats.

My research on this went only as far as the Heritage Foundation’s own list of their illegal Kansas voters’ last names: Watkins, Garcia, Christensen, Criswell, Doyle, Farris, Hannum, Kilian, Weems, Wilson, Gaedke, Kurtz, Duncan, Scherzer and McIntosh. Not a plethora of Hispanic last names there.

The Heritage tally also includes one Hispanic name, Lleras-Rodriguez, among 17 voter fraud cases in Missouri.

I’m tender myself on the immigrant issue since I’m half German. My father embarked from Hamburg just five years before Adolf Hitler seized power in 1933.

As an immigrant hater, Trump should be tender himself since his grandfather was German and his mother immigrated from Scotland. Two of his three wives, one now an ex-wife, immigrated from Eastern Europe.

Long before he died in 1974 my dad (naturalized as an American citizen in 1934) got to feeling easy about his origins. I fondly remember him tilted back in his green recliner, puffing his pipe and musing, as we immigrants often do, on who should be Americans.

“That’s de trouble mit this country,” he would say with a grin. “We got too dang many foreigners. They gettin’ all de good jobs. Ha, ha, ha!”

Contact the columnist at [email protected].

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