James Hoyt
KU Statehouse Wire Service
Secretary of State Kris Kobach has called for legislation that would require county election offices to audit a portion of electronic votes cast in elections, with the goal of finding possible discrepancies.
Speaking Jan. 25 to the House Elections Committee, Kobach said his proposed bill would permit the Secretary of State’s office to conduct a more thorough investigation of the county’s election results if discrepancies are found.
The issue of voting machine discrepancies was highlighted last summer when Wichita State University mathematician Beth Clarkson sued Kobach and the Sedgwick County Elections Office to obtain records of electronic Sedgwick County voting machines when she found anomalies in data from the machines.
House committee chair Rep. Mark Kahrs (R-Wichita) said there is bipartisan interest in passing legislation regarding post-election audits, although the specifics of a bill based on Kobach’s proposal would need to be worked out.
“There are counties in our state that don’t have a paper trail, and you have to have that to have a legitimate audit process. That’ll take money for counties to finance that,” Kahrs said.
Rep. John Carmichael (D-Wichita), a member of the committee, said he also supports the proposal.
“I think the secretary is right. Those audit tapes and the paper ballots themselves should be available for inspection, such as Ms. Clarkson in Wichita has sought to do,” Carmichael said.
Micah Kubic, Kansas American Civil Liberties Union executive director, said that while he also supports legislation to require post-election audits, he remains skeptical of the details that would result in the legislation, such as the selection of the voting precincts that would be audited.
“Depending on the selection process for those precincts and districts, I think it’s important not to do it in a way that is partisan or favors one demographic or another. It’s important that everyone have confidence in the election system,” Kubic said.
Kobach he personally supports election machine audits, but current Kansas law prohibits them. Kobach also said the bill would allow for speedy election results and would likely not require additional county employees to help perform the audits.
According to the Verified Voting Foundation, 25 states currently helection auditing laws on the books.
Also in the Secretary’s update:
• Kobach said he is not done with Kansas’ dual registration voting laws, which were overturned by a Kansas court on Jan. 15. He said he believed the decision to overturn was “fraught with errors” and would take it as far as an aave required post-ppeal if he had to.
• Kobach updated the committee on the six prosecutions he is currently undertaking for voter fraud. Each of the cases involves individuals charged with voting in multiple elections both within and outside the state of Kansas.
• Kobach reported the growth of the Interstate Crosscheck program, a Kansas-led effort to identify instances of double voters across multiple states. The office of the Secretary of State reports 29 states have joined the program.