TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's office has filed two new criminal election fraud cases, including one alleging that a non-U.S. citizen illegally attempted to vote last year.
The three felony charges filed earlier this month in Johnson County against Sergio Salgado-Juarez marked the second time in two years that Kobach's office has prosecuted a noncitizen for voting or attempting to vote. Legislators gave his office the authority to prosecute election fraud cases in 2015, making him the only top state elections official in the nation with that power.
Ten of the 12 cases filed by Kobach's office have charged people with voting illegally in Kansas while voting in the same elections in other states. His office filed four felony charges earlier this month in Franklin County against David E. Haddock, alleging he voted there last year while also voting in Colorado.
Kobach is vice chairman of President Donald Trump's commission on election fraud and has promoted Trump's unsubstantiated claim of widespread illegal voting last year. Of the 12 cases Kobach's office has filed, nine have ended with convictions or guilty pleas, including the other case of a noncitizen voting. Defendants have been fined from $500 to $6,000 but have received no prison time.
Kobach said in a statement that tough state voter identification laws he's championed are "vital" to keeping elections secure, "But there are still some instances of voter fraud that we can't prevent beforehand."
"In these cases we prosecute afterward in order to deter others," he said.
Telephone listings for Salgado-Juarez in Olathe and Haddock in Wellsville were disconnected, and it wasn't clear from court records whether they have attorneys. Salgado-Juarez has a court appearance scheduled for Sept. 20.
Both cases were filed Aug. 17 by Kobach's chief deputy, Eric Rucker.
Critics contend the voter identification laws championed by Kobach suppress turnout and that Kobach's office hasn't prosecuted enough election fraud cases to justify them.
House Minority Leader Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat, said the latest cases are "a long, long, long, way" from Trump's contention that several million illegal votes were cast against him in last year's presidential election.
"It proves the point that Kris is a solution in search of a problem there," Ward said.
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