Kris Kobach | KCUR

Kris Kobach

On Monday, the Kansas Supreme Court issued a ruling that effectively said the state’s public schools could open in the fall. Yet the same decision left local district officials on Tuesday and beyond with continued, long-term uncertainty.

The high court’s decision could lead to continued fighting over school funding and the topic will likely serve as political fodder in state elections.

file photo / Kansas News Service

Registering to vote in the upcoming Kansas primaries? A federal court ruling issued last week means you won’t need your passport, birth certificate or other citizenship papers to do that.

That ruling took immediate effect.

But Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach plans to appeal. So what happens next? Here’s a summary based on interviews with legal experts.

The status check

file photo / KHI News Service

A devastating legal blow last week to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s voter fraud platform will, in all likelihood, land in the lap of one of six men vying for his job.

That person could decide whether to press or kill Kobach’s appeal of a federal ruling that blocks the office from making would-be voters dig up birth certificates or other documents that show U.S. citizenship.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

A massive voter-tracking program run by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach — which purports to help states keep voter rolls accurate — has halted operations over concerns about its own accuracy and security.

The Interstate Crosscheck system, which Kobach’s office promised would be working ahead of the 2018 elections, has been sidelined while the U.S. Department of Homeland Security conducts a security assessment following the unintended release of hundreds of voters’ private information.

FILE PHOTO / KCUR 89.3

Kansas will no longer be allowed to block people from registering to vote if they don’t provide documents such as birth certificates or passports to prove their citizenship.

On Monday, a federal judge ruled that doing so violates the U.S. Constitution and the 1993 National Voter Registration Act.

Read the complete ruling

“It's a 100 percent win,” said Mark Johnson, a Kansas City attorney who represented one of the plaintiffs, Parker Bednasek. “We got everything we asked for. Can't say that very often.”

Updated on June 15

Why did Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the census, approve adding a hotly contested citizenship question to 2020 census forms?

file photo / KCUR 89.3 FM

The Kansas Court of Appeals said Friday that a grand jury investigation of Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office should go forward. The request was brought by a Lawrence man running for the Kansas House, Steven Davis.

He followed a rarely used Kansas law that allows citizens to call grand juries by collecting signatures.

Davis wants to know whether Kobach’s office mishandled voter registrations and whether any crimes were committed.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Kansas governor discusses his transition to power, his election campaign, and the challenges facing his state.

Four months ago, then-Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer stepped into the position vacated by then-Gov. Sam Brownback. Today, he sat down for a wide-ranging conversation that covered school funding, the Kansas Department for Children and Families, a newly-enacted adoption statute, and his campaign to win the governorship without aggressively challenging rival Republican Kris Kobach.

Kris Kobach / Twitter

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is drawing national scrutiny after he appeared in the Old Shawnee Days parade in Johnson County on Saturday riding in a Jeep with a large machine gun replica mounted on it.

In a tweet after the parade, Kobach called the vehicle a “souped-up Jeep,” and posed with it. The gun appeared to be a .50 caliber machine gun. Kobach said the firearm was a replica.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

Republican candidate for Kansas governor Jim Barnett has chosen what he admits is an unconventional running mate: his wife.

Barnett announced Thursday that he had selected Rosie Hansen as his lieutenant governor pick.

Barnett said he wanted a running mate to help accomplish his goals of improving the way state government functions and bridging the divide between rural and urban Kansas.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Democrat Laura Kelly all but set the field in the Kansas governor’s race Thursday by picking fellow state Sen. Lynn Rogers as her running mate.

Among the leading contenders, only Republican former state Sen. Jim Barnett has yet to complete his ticket. He’s expected to do that a day ahead of next week’s June 1 filing deadline.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

Police arrested 18 people protesting policies pushed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach after the demonstrators occupied part of his office.

Police led them past other protesters to a bus waiting outside the Kobach’s office.

file photo / Kansas News Service

A federal judge will now review whether it’s reasonable for an ACLU legal team to charge Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach $52,000 for the time it spent asking a court to hold him in contempt.

The bill for attorneys fees and related expenses came Monday after the ACLU team won that contempt finding last month.

file photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas lawmakers on Tuesday dropped an effort to require Secretary of State Kris Kobach to pay a contempt of court fine with his own money, rather than state dollars.

file photo / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach got a Statehouse rebuke Friday from lawmakers even as they avoided mentioning the combative candidate for governor by name.

During a lengthy debate on a budget bill, state Rep. Russ Jennings offered what at first appeared to be just another in a series of amendments.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

A pro-gun rally on the south side of the Kansas Statehouse drew about 200 people to Topeka on Friday morning as students around the country walked out of class to protest gun violence.

The rally was organized by the Kansas State Rifle Association and the NRA.

Speakers repeated familiar slogans, arguing that "only a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun," that progressives want to repeal the Second Amendment, and that if people are old enough to serve in the military, they're old enough to conceal carry.

file photo / Kansas News Service

A federal judge has held Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in contempt for failing to fully register and notify eligible voters he’d blocked.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson found Kobach failed to get standard postcards sent out to those would-be voters confirming their registrations and failed to update the County Election Manual used by local election officials processing voter applications, as she had ordered him to do in May 2016.

screengrab / Kansas Republican Party Facebook page

Being the incumbent may give Jeff Colyer a leg up in the Republican race for governor, but it also makes him a target.

His chief rivals, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer, used a forum sponsored by the Kansas Republican Party In Atchison to characterize Colyer as a poor manager and weak leader on conservative causes.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach committed ethical violations during the just-completed trial over the state’s voter registration law, a Kansas immigration lawyer alleges in a bar complaint.

Matthew Hoppock, who practices in Overland Park, said he was duty-bound to file the complaint as an officer of the court.

“I have to,” he told KCUR. “Any licensed attorney in Kansas who thinks another attorney has broken the rules is required to.”

Robert J. Dole Federal Courthouse

Much was at stake in the two-plus weeks in Kansas City, Kansas, federal court where Secretary of State Kris Kobach defended the strict voter registration law he spearheaded and his office’s execution of those rules.

The case holds potential national ramifications for how difficult states can make voter registration, and for shedding light on whether enough illegal ballots get cast to justify tougher proof-of-citizenship rules.

file photo / KCUR 89.3 FM

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach got a tongue lashing Tuesday from the judge who will decide whether he violated federal law by blocking tens of thousands of voter applications.

Federal Chief District Judge Julie Robinson, a George W. Bush appointee, accused Kobach of engaging in “gamesmanship” and skirting her orders.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

(Daily developments below. Click here to jump to the most recent day's reporting. Or you can click here to read coverage of the contempt hearing that happened on Tuesday, March 20.)

How far must people go to prove they’re really Americans when they register to vote?

Does simply swearing to the fact — at risk of perjury, prison, fines and deportation — protect democracy from non-Americans subverting an election?

Or are cheaters common enough that only documents — say a birth certificate or a passport — go far enough to protect the integrity of the ballot box?

Are Kansas’ strict voter registration laws necessary protections against fraud, or are they a nakedly political attempt to disenfranchise certain voters? That question is at the heart of a federal trial going on in Kansas. We explain this complicated issue and get the latest from the Statehouse. 

file photo / Kansas News Service

A Kansas law that blocked tens of thousands of voter registrations goes on trial this week in federal court — testing whether fraud is common enough to warrant tougher registration rules.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach wants to prove his oft-made and much-challenged assertions that voter fraud isn’t just a risk, but a real and widespread problem.

file phone / PublicDomainPictures.net

Listening to news reports while driving to the Statehouse on the day after the deadly high school shooting in Florida, Kansas Sen. Barbara Bollier decided to redouble her efforts to put a “red flag” law on the books in Kansas.

She wants a system for temporarily confiscating guns from people deemed a risk to themselves or others.

Nadya Faulx / Kansas News Service

Wink Hartman, who last week dropped from the Kansas governor’s race and backed Kris Kobach, said he’s offered his arena to the National Rifle Association for its upcoming national convention.

The offer looks to be more gesture than prospective deal. The Hartman Arena in Wichita suburb Park City holds 6,500, about two thirds the capacity of the venue where the NRA convention currently plans to meet in Dallas.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

Wichita businessman Willis “Wink” Hartman suspended his campaign for the Republican for governor Wednesday, becoming the second candidate to exit the GOP race this month.

Hartman, an oil producer and owner of a chain of restaurants who recently loaned his campaign $1.6 million, is urging his supporters to back fellow conservative Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The Kansas City Star reported late Wednesday that Kobach is considering Hartman as his running mate. 

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

A crowded race for the Republican nomination for governor in Kansas has candidates looking for ways to stand out.

At a forum held over the weekend in Wichita, the hopefuls signaled how they hope to separate themselves from the field.

Secretary of State Kris Kobach wants primary voters to see him as the true conservative in the contest.

Screen grab from the Kansas Secretary of State website

The Kansas Secretary of State’s office took a trove of public records offline Thursday after a technology website discovered that they reveal partial Social Security numbers for potentially thousands of state officials.

Keith Ivey / Flickr-CC

Some states fear that a Kansas voter record system could fall prey to hackers, prompting a delay in the annual collection of nearly 100 million people’s records into a database scoured for double-registrations.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach touts the program, called Crosscheck, as a tool in combating voter fraud. Last year, 28 states submitted voters’ names, birth dates, and sometimes partial social security numbers, to Kobach’s office.

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