Kris Kobach visits Augusta

Secretary of State Kris Kobach made a visit to the Butler County Republican Party meeting held this week in Augusta.

Sen. Ty Masterson introduced Kobach and said what a fitting time this was with what has been happening in Virginia with voter fraud.

“We have champions like Kris fighting for us,” he said. “He’s really a national figure.”

Kobach began by thanking everyone for attending.

He said he is a lawyer by trade and is serving as lead attorney in some ongoing cases.

Since becoming secretary of state, Kobach said his goal has to become the best state in the country on securing elections.

“We drafted a law tough as can be against voter fraud,” he said. “We became the first state in America for photo ID at the polls and proof of citizenship when you register to vote. We are one of only four states that do that.

“We kind of emerged as the leader. I knew that eventually we would face some litigation because the ACLU, they have a whole division in their New York office devoted to litigating to stop states that are trying to stop voter fraud.”

He said he was going to talk about the litigation fight they are in, as well as Donald Trump and the Supreme Court justices in Kansas.

Fighting voter fraud

“I knew the fight would come but I did not imagine it would come on so many fronts,” he said. “We are litigating two federal lawsuits right now and two state lawsuits all at one.”

He said the arguments being made are crazy. One was the U.S. Dept. of Justice was on the other side.

“For those of you who haven’t heard, the Dept. of Justice has become a branch office of the ACLU,” Kobach said. “I mean that part in jest, but it’s almost true. If you look at the attorneys hired by the Obama administration to the Dept. of Justice, they almost all have on their resumes long-time ACLU pedigrees.”

He said there is more research on this at Pajamas Media, which did a Freedom of Information Act request for the resumes of these justices.

“It has gotten so bad that in one case, Kansas requested changes to the federal form (to vote),” he continued. “They are supposed to whenever we make changes, make the changes.”

He said the ACLU said they didn’t like the changes because they don’t like proof of citizenship and the Dept. of Justice, which has a duty to defend any federal agency and their decisions, said they’re not going to defend that decision.

He said they told that agency not only would they not defend them, but they could not hire outside counsel.

“At that point the state of Kansas intervened and a conservative group in Washington intervened to defend a federal agency because the U.S. Justice Dept. won’t do it,” he continued.

He said the judges are assigned randomly and they one they got in this case was the most conservative of the judges.

He said in the first hearing, the judge asked the Dept. of Justice if they were refusing to defend the agency and asked if any time in the history of the Dept. of Justice has it declined to defend and agency and agreed to a preliminary injunction. He said it had not happened before.

While Kobach said he was fairly confident in that case, but there is another one he isn’t as sure of.

“This one is in Kansas federal court and the judge is Judge Julie Robinson, who has adopted the ACLU’s theories,” he said, explaining the theory was that in 1993 when congress passed the motor voter law allowing people to vote at the motor vehicle bureau, congress was saying you did not have to prove of citizenship there.

“Unfortunately, that is an opinion we are trying to get appealed in the 10th Circuit,” he said, adding that circuit used to be conservative, but with Obama’s appointments to the courts, it is now liberal, along with other circuits.

“By conservative, I mean not activists,” he said. “Judges who just apply the law as written and don’t make up the law to suit their ideology.”

He said the 8th Circuit is the only conservative one left.

“It’s really, really bad out there,” he said. “If Hillary (Clinton) wins it’s not just the Supreme Court, it’s all of the Courts of Appeal. Ninety-eight percent of cases of appeal are never taken to the Supreme Court. If we don’t have a Republican victory it will take multiple generations to recover and get a fair hearing in court.

“They are making up law as they go along. Like the Supreme Court did making up a federal right to gay marriage in the Constitution, which does not exist, and changing the meaning of the voter registration act.”

Kobach said proof of citizenship is a bigger threat to the voter fraud than photo ID is.

“Photo ID is good and it prevents certain forms of voter fraud,” he said. “As good as photo ID is, proof of citizenship is much better.”

He said one example is Sedgwick County, which is the one place in the state where they go to all naturalization ceremonies and the election agent discovered as they register people at the citizenships ceremony, they find they have already been registered for many years.

“These people have long voting records,” he said.

That’s where we are now in presenting this information to the courts, but he said Judge Robinson said she didn’t see that as a big enough problem.

“To give you some scope of it, all of these cases come from the last three years, 25 cases of people discovered already on our voter rolls before they became citizens or should have been prevented from becoming voters because of our proof of citizenship law since 2013. That’s the tip of the iceberg in Sedgwick County.”

He said that is about 1/10th of the true voter rolls in Sedgwick County. Taking that out to the other counties, there could be more than 1,000 on the voter rolls state wide, probably multiple thousands.

“It’s a bit deal and it’s an even bigger deal in states like Florida where you have a huge number from various countries,” he said. “If you talk about Florida, you are talking about a state that can decide the presidential election. In a battleground state it absolutely could mean the difference.”

He said some people are voting illegally by mistake, but others are doing it intentionally.

Looking at Kansas, he said there are some representative races that could be affected every cycle.

“That’s why I think the ACLU is so much more concerned about knocking Kansas down on this than voter ID,” he said. “We are at ground zero. I think it’s the right thing to do and I think we have to win. I appreciate your support.”

Thoughts on Donald Trump

Kobach went on to talk about Donald Trump and the first presidential debate, saying he thought he won the first half, but lost the second half. He said his tactical error was spending too much time defending himself.

“But bear in mind, this guy has not run for political office before,” he said. “All of his prior debates were with nine people on the stage, so it is different in a one-on-one debate. I’m very confident by the second debate his team will say this is what you have done wrong, try this differently, but I think he was very good at leveling the accusations against Hillary with her ineffectiveness over the past 30 years.”

He said Trump did land punches.

“I just can’t wait for him to start talking about Benghazi,” Kobach said.

Looking at polling, Kobach said he does not pay a lot of attention to the nationwide polls, but rather looks at it state by state.

“It looks really good in Ohio and Iowa,” he said. “A Republican cannot win in today’s electoral college unless they win Ohio and Florida. It looks like he is going to win Ohio; even the Clinton campaign is scaling back their operation there. Florida is the one that is neck and neck, but he has certain advantages in Florida.”

Those included doing well with an older population and having his second home there.

“There is a thing called favorable response bias,” he continued, explaining people, especially those who are unaffiliated, think they should not say they are for Trump and will say they are undecided.

“In most instances you can add one or two (points) to what you see in the poll in Trump’s favor,” he said.

Kobach went on to share his theory on presidential elections, saying if looking at all elections in the television age, the candidate who won is the person you would want to have a beer with.

That is because the size of the electorate is about double in a presidential election, over other elections. He said that person who only votes in the presidential election does not care about the issues, but are driven by personality and gut reactions to people. He said the candidate who seems more appealing and friendly wins the election.

He said if you apply that test in this year’s election, there is not any doubt.

“Would you rather listen to Trump speak for 10 minutes or hear Hillary speak for 10 minutes?” he said. “I think on the charisma, the beer test, Trump will win. I think the theory has worked for the past 56 years, so we will see if it works again this year.”

He also talked about the enthusiasm gap, saying polls are not science.

“If you get the sample wrong, you’re going to get the poll wrong,” he said. “This election the sampling is going to be way off because of Trump. He pulls people in.”

“The Hillary rallies are drawing a few hundred people; the Trump rallies are drawing, 6,000, 7,000, 10,000 and they are turning away people who are not even being counted,” Kobach said. “That does not happen in presidential rallies. I’m not saying the election is in the bag, but I feel like we could win this one.”

Kansas Supreme Court justices

Kobach began by saying he hoped the “vote no” posters at the event were going in people’s yards.

Kobach explained Kansas uses the Missouri system to select judges which is very partisan and how the state has ended up with one of the most liberal courts in the country.

“I’ve argued in front of the California Supreme Court,” he said. “I would say Kansas’ is almost as liberal as theirs.

“One thing we’ve tried to do with great votes by Sen. Masterson is we have tried to change the way of selecting judges. That is one way to get us out of this hole we are digging ourselves into in the state of Kansas for so many years. The other way is to just get rid of the activists on the court and see if we can fill those seats with judges who actually apply the law. When I saw activists I mean activists. These are judges that just make it up. This whole school finance litigation. It’s all based on the word suitability. It comes from a claus in the constitution that says the Kansas legislature shall make suitable provision for the financing of public education. If you look at the context of that sentence, they are saying the legislature shall make a suitable structure for property taxes, state taxes, come up with some structure to finance the schools. It doesn’t say shall provide a suitable amount of money to be spent on each child, but the Kansas Supreme Court has taken that word out of context.

“It’s a completely activist decision. They stepped out of their role as judges and became legislators.”

He went on to say there have been so many cases where the Kansas Supreme Court decisions have been reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court because they are so out in left field.

“We have to get these justices off,” he continued. “The history is there has never been a justice not retained. We have to get some of the activities off of the court of appeals, too.”

Kobach said for the Supreme Court they should throw all the judges out except Caleb Stegall.

“If we succeeded, it’s going to be very close,” he said. “Like I said, it’s never happened in Kansas.”

The one time it has happened is in Iowa right after the Iowa Supreme Court ruled the Iowa Constitution created a fictitious right to gay marriage. The people of Iowa were so incensed by this decision that they had outside money come in.”

He said the organizations spent millions of dollars on this and the no vote was still only 55 percent.

“It’s going to be an uphill struggle to knock these justices off,” he said. “That’s why I am so happy to see these signs go up. I just applaud the groups who are getting them out.”

He also pointed out Gov. Sam Brownback does not get to select who he wants to appoint to the court, but has to pick from the three names the commission gives him.

He concluded by taking some questions from the audience.

Julie Clements can be reached at Twitter: @BCtimesgazette