Kansas Democrats are using the threat of suing the state's Republican secretary of state over "voter surpression" as a new tactic to raise money.
Emails sent over the weekend by the Kansas Democratic Party ask for funds to pay for future lawsuits against Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), for what they say is Kobach's denial of the right to vote with voter identification laws and a new law requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote. The emails come weeks after Democrats took Kobach to federal court to gain access to provisional voter names in a contested state legislative race involving Kobach's leading opponent in the state legislature.
"What we are looking at is a secretary of state using taxpayer funds to decrease voter turnout," Kansas Democratic Party spokesman Dakota Loomis said. "Kris Kobach is the poster child for voter surpression right now."
In the email, Jason Perkey, the state party executive director wrote:
We stood up to Kris Kobach repeatedly this election, blocking him from disenfranchising voters and manipulating election outcomes. But Kobach has shown us he will stop at nothing to get his way.
Will you join with us to make sure elections remain free and fair?
By creating a legal defense fund we can continue fighting Kris Kobach’s dangerous anti-voter agenda. Click here to help create the Kris Kobach Defense Fund.
Loomis said that the party anticipates legal battles against Kobach over issues that include voter ID, the proof of citizenship requirement and vote-counting in future elections. Loomis said funds would likely go to the party's general treasury, instead of a separate fund for Kobach litigation.
"We are trying to make sure we have the funds, so we can go to court to make sure the votes can be counted," Loomis told HuffPost. "Given Kobach's repeated behavior, we expect to go to court in 2013 and 2014."
The latest case involved a decision by election officials in Shawnee County, who report to Kobach, to block access to provision ballot voter names in a contested race involving state Rep. Ann Mah (D-Topeka), who has repeatedly battled Kobach over voter ID. Mah won a federal court ruling to gain access to the names, but lost the election. Kobach's political action committee spent funds to defeat Mah.
Kobach has been vocal on the voter ID issue, along with the proof of citizenship to register, which takes effect in January. Loomis linked Kobach to what he described as a national tactic by Republican secretaries of state to "limit access to the ballot." While Loomis cited other GOP officials, including Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, he said Kobach has become a national leader.
The Democrats' move comes as Kobach seeks to expand his power by asking state legislators to allow the secretary of state to investigate and prosecute voter fraud. Kobach said county prosecutors, who currently have that power, have not done a good job handling voter fraud. Democrats, including Mah and Loomis, have said that Kobach has been unable to prove voter fraud is a problem in Kansas.
Kobach did not return a request for comment.
Loomis said that Kobach's actions could backfire.
"If you start disenfranchising people in Kansas, you'll disenfranchise more Republicans than Democrats, based on the state numbers," Loomis said.