Kansas Secretary of State says election could be 'stolen' but likely not rigged

Posted at 10:25 PM, Oct 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-18 19:09:39-04

The rally cry of republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is that the election November 8 could be "rigged."

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says, not here.

"I would say that in Kansas we have some of the safest elections in America, if not the safest," Kobach said.

He does think elections can be stolen though, in cases where states have a large number of non-citizens who are registered and on the voter rolls.

Kobach explained, "That's a really big problem in certain states. Especially I would say, in California and Florida most notably where you have non-citizens who get on the rolls and it's almost impossible to locate them on the rolls once they're on."

In July 2015, Kobach became the only secretary of state in the country with the power to prosecute voter fraud cases. There have been five so far in Kansas; four people pled guilty and one has an upcoming trial. There was no ill-intent or non-citizen among that group.

Twenty-five non-citizens registered or tried to register to vote in Sedgwick County, according to Kobach. He also said some non-citizens successfully voted in Kansas, but did not give a specific number. 

"Extrapolate that. That's 25 in one county alone. We have 105 counties in Kansas and 25 is just the tip of the iceberg. That would suggest that statewide we probably have well over a thousand aliens on our voter rolls and if you don't check people at the front end when they're trying to register then you may very well never discover them," Kobach stressed.

The Kansas Democratic Party disagrees. Executive director Kerry Gooch said,"Unfortunately I think our Secretary of State has changed what the definition of election integrity is." Their party is focusing on having, "Poll watchers and poll checkers at lots of different polling locations all across the state," Gooch explained. "We'll also have an election protection team, which is a group of attorneys that are going to be located in different parts of the state." The team will be in place to file briefings and lawsuits that violate the law on the spot.

Kobach is confident in the state system because, "We're one of very few states that combines photo ID, equivalent security for mail-in ballots and we have proof of citizenship at the time of registration."

Thanks to preliminary injunctions, 17,000 Kansans who registered without proof of citizenship will get to vote on election day with or without it as the courts consider several lawsuits brought against the voter ID law. Kobach believes, "There is an attack on our proof of citizenship law being made by the ACLU. They have sued the state of Kansas in four different lawsuits and we are defending our law vigorously."

Gooch doesn't understand the focus. He added, "I think the people who are being hindered by voting is a bigger problem that we should we talking about."

Kobach says you can feel confident heading to the polls in Kansas because, "elections in America are low-tech and that's a good thing. They don't then go to a website and upload that to a website. They transmit it old-school in Kansas, through a fax machine or over a phone, telling us numbers over a phone. There's no way anyone could hack into those numbers and change the tabulation, the tallies of votes, on Election Day in Kansas or really in any state.We're going to make sure the system is fair. We want it to be easy to vote but we also want it to be hard to cheat."


Editor's Note:  A previous version of the story stated :"There were 25 non-citizens who did vote in the last three years." We have updated the story to clarify that Kobach did not give a specific number of non-citizens who voted. He said 25 non-citizens registered or tried to register to vote.