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Democrat Accuses SOS Kris Kobach Of Lying About Voter ID Law

Alyson Raletz

The ever-tightening race for Secretary of State in Kansas is also becoming a war of words, as Democratic challenger Jean Schodorf accused Republican incumbent Kris Kobach of lying to the Legislature to get his restrictive voter law passed.

Schodorf, now a Democrat who served in the state Senate as a Republican, admitted during a debate on KCUR’s Up To Date, that she had voted for the 2011 law. But, she said, Kobach either lied or couldn’t implement the law, which has become “government at its worst.”

“He promised that all citizens would be able to register to vote and it would be easy and no one would even know that there was a change in the law,” she said. “He broke his word. He has not implemented the law.”

When asked by Kraske if she wished she could take back the vote, she replied that she believes in safe and secure elections, but demurred on the question. If elected, Schodorf promised to fix the law, which has kept 22,000 from voting.

Kobach called Schodorf’s criticism “griping” and said his office bends over backwards to work with voters to get them registered.

“I didn’t lie to anyone. I didn’t do some kind of Jedi mind trick and make Jean vote for something she didn’t want to,” he said. “The law is working just fine.”

Before the law went into effect, some 70 “aliens” were caught fraudulently registered to vote, he said. Since its passage, more than 12 people have been caught, he said.

“I use the word ‘caught’ in quotation marks because sometimes the alien doesn’t even know that he’s breaking the law,” Kobach said. “Someone comes to his door and says ‘Hey would like to register to vote?’ And he wants to be nice and says ‘Sure, I’ll fill out the form.’”

Other times, the DMV unknowingly allows an undocumented person to register while he or she is getting a driver’s license, he said.

The most recent poll shows Kobach with a narrow lead over Schodorf, 47 percent to 41 percent.

To hear the entire debate on KCUR's "Up To Date," click here.

I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
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