By Hunter Woodall

Kansas City Star

October 01, 2017

LAWRENCE — Kansas has once again taken center stage in the fight over voting rights in America.

The American Civil Liberties Union on Sunday night made a point of calling out Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has championed stricter requirements for voters and alleged widespread election fraud that he’s been unable to prove.

The criticism of Kobach came as the ACLU kicked off a 50-state “Let People Vote” campaign at the Lied Center in Lawrence, roughly a half hour from Kobach’s office in Topeka.

“This is going to be difficult, this is complex,” said Faiz Shakir, the ACLU’s national political director. “Because given the dysfunction in Congress, we are not going to pass anything through there to expand voting rights. It would be ideal if we could. But it’s not going to happen.

“So the only way that we can fight to expand voting rights in America is to go state by state by state.”

A vocal crowd booed Kobach, whose name was mentioned frequently during the event as speakers talked about his policies on elections, immigration and national voter fraud work.

Under Kobach, Kansas has put into law some of the most restrictive rules on the right to vote that exist anywhere in the country, said Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Kansas.

“This event is an important way of kicking off the national movement to defend voting rights in a place where it has been most under attack for the last six years,” Kubic said.

Kobach, a Republican candidate for governor in 2018, has battled the ACLU over voting requirements but has continued to champion a Kansas law that has been challenged in court.

That law set up requirements that voters must show a photo ID at the polls and must provide proof of citizenship when they register.

The ACLU is challenging the law, and Kobach was blocked in court from fully enforcing the law during the 2016 election cycle.

Kobach said he and the ACLU “are frequent adversaries in court.”

“We find ourselves on the opposite ends of a lot of litigation,” Kobach said. “I think it’s fair to say that the ACLU and I have fundamentally different world views.”

After the Lawrence event was announced, Kobach said in a statement the ACLU’s “campaign should be entitled ‘Let People Vote Without Showing Photo ID.’ ”

He has continued to strongly defend the Kansas voting law, including the proof of citizenship requirement, during his tenure as secretary of state.

“It’s not surprising because the ACLU has been opposed to photo ID laws and to proof of citizenship laws,” Kobach said in a recent interview. “… They’ve chosen to go where the elections are more secure.”