With two months to go until the midterm elections, the Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that a grand jury must investigate the role of gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach in mishandled voter registrations in the 2016 election.
In 2016, a petition filed by Kansas House candidate Steven Davis asked for an investigation into whether Kobach was involved in “destroying, obstructing, or failing to deliver online voter registration” or was “grossly neglectful with respect to [his] election duties.” His camp says the Davis’ petition references a period of time in 2016 when the online voter registration systems were temporarily malfunctioning. Kobach called the allegations politically motivated.
Since then, the petition has bounced around Kansas courts. First, a county judge dismissed the petition. Then, the Kansas Court of Appeals reversed the decision in June. Kobach took the case to the Kansas Supreme Court, who have now ordered the investigation.
Kobach has helped enact some of the most oppressive voter laws in the country, under the guise of protecting against voter fraud. His legislation was described by the New York Times as “the nation’s most rigorous voting restrictions.” A federal judge struck down one of his’s voter ID laws.
He was also one of the leaders of Trump’s ill-fated electoral fraud commission, which was put together to investigate the president’s bogus claims of mass voter fraud in the 2016 election. The commission has since been disbanded.
In addition to his attempts to disenfranchise Kansas voters, Kobach is also known for his alleged connections to white nationalists. In August, two GOP consultants accused Kobach of keeping three men on his payroll with connections to white nationalist groups. The three campaign workers were purportedly members of the American Heritage Initiative, an offshoot of the white nationalist group Identity Evropa.
The investigation ordered by the Kansas court could hurt Kobach in his upcoming election, which seems to be a close race. According to a poll released this week by Kansas NEA PAC, Kobach leads Democratic Senator Laura Kelly by 39 points to 38 points, while independent candidate Greg Orman has 9 points. If Kelly won, she’d be the first Democrat to take the office since 2011.