Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach complies with court ruling against his voter ID law, with a curious caveat

Kris Kobach complies with court ruling
(Image credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson struck down Kansas' voter registration ID requirement and ordered Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to stop enforcing the law, which he had championed and personally defended in court, and take six hours of continuing legal education on "civil rules of procedure or evidence." In April, Robinson, a George W. Bush appointee, had ruled Kobach in contempt of court for ignoring earlier decisions. And because of this "well-documented history of avoiding this court's orders," she wrote Monday, Kobach had to immediately tell county election officials to comply with her ruling.

It wasn't until Wednesday afternoon that Bryan Caskey, Kobach's elections director, instructed county clerks to stop asking for proof of citizenship and activate all voter registrations canceled or suspended under the law, affecting 25,175 voting records. On Tuesday, Caskey had told county election officials to keep enforcing the law, The Topeka Capital-Journal reports. As Kobach spokeswoman Danedri Herbert explained, "I think 'immediately' is kind of open to interpretation."

Caskey's emailed instructions Wednesday also told county officials to flag registration records if a voter voluntarily submitted proof of citizenship, "for tracking purposes only," though he also noted the Kobach is appealing Robinson's ruling. Mark Johnson, an attorney in one of the two lawsuits against Kobach, protested that caveat, telling The Wichita Eagle: "They have no business maintaining that information. I don't like the idea that it will be used for tracking purposes only. Tracking what?"

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"For Kobach, the trial should've been a moment of glory," Jessica Huseman writes at ProPublica. "He's been arguing for a decade that voter fraud is a national calamity. ... If anybody ever had time to marshal facts and arguments before a trial, it was Kobach." Instead, Robinson and his own witnesses dealt him "an unalloyed defeat." You can read Huseman's report on the trial and verdict at ProPublica.

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