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Kris Kobach discusses voter photo ID in Kansas

By   /   April 3, 2012  /   7 Comments

SHAWNEE — Secretary of State Kris Kobach held a press conference outside a polling place in the city election on Tuesday to discuss voter photo ID in Kansas elections.

Watch the video above or read the transcript below from the press conference:

0:00  Kobach’s introductory remarks: “This is a big day for Kansas elections.  This is the biggest single day test … of our new photo ID law. ”

“We expect that in the 42 counties that are having municipal and school district elections there will probably be more than 40,000 votes cast.  … We’ve had a number of smaller elections since Jan. 1 when the law took effect.  So far, so good.  Things are working very smoothly. ”

“People are remembering their photo IDs.  Most people express pleasure at the new law.  They’re happy with the way things are working, and how we’re protecting the right to vote, protecting the integrity of the election process in Kansas.”

“We’re also finding that things work smoothly in terms of the time it takes to vote.  If a person already has their photo ID out, it’s easier for the poll worker to see how the name is spelled and very quickly find the name in the poll book.”

“It’s certainly something that’s proving that the critics were wrong last year when critics in the legislature claimed that thousands and thousands of Kansans would lack photo ID and be unable to vote.  It’s proving false.”

“Kansas has an electorate of more than 1.7 million registered voters and so far, as of the end of February, only 14 people statewide have requested a free, non-driver ID to vote.  That’s a pretty tiny percentage out of a 1.7 million electorate.”

“That indicates what we all know intuitively … people already have a photo ID.  You cannot function in modern American society without a photo ID … as a result people find it very easy to comply with the new Kansas election law.”

Questions from press and Kobach’s responses:

1:53  Q1 (KMBZ):  “You’re going to have critics that are saying it’s going to make it tougher for minorities, tougher perhaps for old people to cast their ballots.  Your response?”

2:04  Kobach: “The critics have made those arguments but I think they’ve been making those arguments without any factual basis …”

“Take for example the argument that minorities would have a harder time voting.  One has to ask:  ‘why in the world would a person’s skin color have any relationship to their ability to get a photo ID?’  It doesn’t even make sense and the numbers don’t show that minorities are having any difficulties producing photo ID because pretty much everybody, every adult in American society already has one.”

“Similarly with the elderly, we’re finding that elderly voters are not having any trouble complying with the law in part because the law was drafted to give lots of venues, lots of ways for elderly voters to participate.   …”

“The law was carefully drafted to make sure that everybody would have a chance to vote.”

“The bottom line in Kansas is now it’s easy to vote, but hard to cheat.  And I think most people appreciate that.”

3:25 Q2 (KMBZ): “…. do you see going forward any further restrictions in Kansas voting laws with regard to people proving their identity?”

3:34  Kobach: “No.  We’ve really made a great step forward with the Secure and Fair Elections Act that was passed in 2011.  When Kansas passed that law that made us the number one state in the country in terms of protecting the integrity of the election process.   We became the first state ever to include photo ID, equivalent protection for mail-in ballots, and proof of citizenship for registering voters.  That put us at the top of the heap.  Now other states are following our lead. … ”

4:12 Q3 (KMBZ):  “Have you heard of any folks voting being slowed down in any of the precincts today?”

4:18  Kobach:   “No, I haven’t heard of any reports of voting being slowed down.”

“This is one of those side benefits of photo ID that many people may not have anticipated.  When a person walks into the polling place with their driver’s license already out, in many instances it speeds things up because the poll worker doesn’t have to ask ‘how to you spell that last name’ …  Things like that speed the whole process up …”

4:48  Q4 (KMBZ): “You’ve been widely criticized for having a political action committee.  Are you going to continue with that?”

4:52  Kobach:  “Yes. Yes.   A Secretary of State doesn’t give up his or her right to participate in the political process just because one holds an elected office. …  My involvement by chairing a political action committee is something that is perfectly  appropriate, perfectly legal.  It’s a way for me to ensure going forward  the Kansas legislature maintains its commitment to protecting the integrity of our elections, and I can do that by supporting candidates for office who will continue to keep our election laws strong.”

5:31  Q5 (KMBZ):  But does anybody else in the administration at the cabinet level have a PAC like you do?

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach outside Shawnee polling place on Tuesday

5:36  Kobach:  “…it’s been common for past governors.  I’m not sure of the total number of other statewide elected officers who had PACs …”

5:51  Q6 (KMBZ):  “You have also faced a lot of criticism for co-authoring the Arizona immigration bill, and consulting with some other states.  Will you continue doing that?”

5:59  Kobach:  “Yes, I made it clear to voters when I ran for the Office of Secretary of State that I would continue in my spare time helping other states to try to stop illegal immigration.  That’s something that’s really had an effect, a positive effect in slowing down the rate of new illegal immigration to the United States.  It’s opened up jobs for U.S. citizens, and that’s really important at a time when so many millions of Americans are out of work that we protect those available jobs for people who are either here legally from abroad or are U.S. citizens. … We should certainly look after  United States’ citizens first and foremost … ”

6:46  Q7 (Kansas Watchdog):  “What happens today if a voter shows up without an ID?”

6:49  Kobach:  “If a voter shows up today without an ID they’ll be given a provisional ballot.  They can cast that ballot.  It’s a full ballot that allows them to vote for all the relevant offices.  Then they will have until the day of the county canvass  to produce a photo ID for the Johnson County Election Office.  …  Suppose the person is one of those very, very small number of people in Kansas who actually doesn’t have a photo ID, they can get it in the intervening approximately a week  …  and then show it to the Johnson County Election Office and make sure their provisional ballot  counts. ”

7:23  Q8 (Kansas Watchdog):  “Critics of the voter ID claim the ID interferes with voter registration drives.  What’s your answer to that?”

7:32  Kobach:  “We haven’t seen it so far.  I think the photo ID part couldn’t possibly interfere with the voter registration drive.  This is something that happens on election day.   I think the critics who claim that the voter registration drive would be impeded, they have argued that proof of citizenship would somehow impede their registration drives.”

“Again, their argument is a hollow one.  If you look at it closely it doesn’t make any sense, because the Kansas law says that you can have a registration drive.  You can hand out voter registration cards.   People can fill them out on the spot.  Then the individual who has just been registered to vote can send in a photocopy, or can text in a photo on his phone of his birth certificate at some other time to the county election office or the Secretary of State’s office.”

“There’s no reason why voter registration drives can’t continue as normal, it just adds another step.  You just have to tell the voter to remember if they didn’t bring their birth certificate … they need to send it in some time before the election.”

8:32  Q9 (Kansas Watchdog):  “In the earlier elections this year where voter ID has been used, what problems have been observed?”

8:37  Kobach:  “Really, very minor ones.”

“For example, in Wichita they have electronic poll books.  …  Electronic poll books allow the poll worker to scan the back of the driver’s license, which is pretty neat.  It automatically pulls up the data in less than a second of the voter.  At one polling place they were trying to scan a different photo ID — not a Kansas driver’s license —  and wondering why the scanner wouldn’t work.”

“Really, small stuff like that.  [There were] no systemic problems.  Every once in awhile you might have a poll worker who wasn’t sure what the total  list of acceptable photo IDs included.  They are trained in that.  …”

“… Small things that allow us to improve the process of training …”

9:54  Q10 (KMBC TV –  also interviewed Kobach before press conference):  “You don’t think anyone is going to bring up the issue about the glitch today at the drivers’ license offices …?”

10:03  Kobach:  “I don’t think so.   The person can cast a ballot if they have any photo ID that qualifies, and there’s a long list of qualifying photo IDs.”

“The likelihood that someone was planning to get a driver’s license today and then use that driver’s license later in the day to cast a ballot I think is pretty small.  … I don’t anticipate that’s going to be a problem at all.”

Both before and after the press conference, voters approached Secretary of State Kobach and expressed approval of voter ID.

Before the press conference an unidentified voter said “Photo ID – I like that idea.”  Kobach replied “thanks.”

Afterwards a voter who had watched much of the press conference commented there was a lack of questions about proponents of voter ID in Kansas.

Kansas Watchdog contacted two groups opposed to voter ID in Kansas via email for comments about Kobach’s statements in the press conference.  There has been no feedback from those groups yet.


Contact: Earl F Glynn, [email protected], KansasWatchdog.org

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