Aug. 14, 2018 – A week after the polls have closed in the Kansas Republican primary for governor, the race is still too close to call. Currently, Secretary of State Kris Kobach leads Governor Jeff Colyer by only 110 votes. Deciding a definitive winner could still be weeks away with an estimated 10,000 provisional ballots yet to be counted and a likely recount to follow. The tension of the close race has only increased as problems in county-by-county reporting and accusations of impropriety swirl.
Kobach initially balked at the suggestion that he, as the Chief Elections Officer, should recuse himself in overseeing the vote count in this contested election. It was a bitterly ironic move coming from the leading crusader of voter fraud, who has been quick to make wild and basely accusations of impropriety elsewhere while refusing to acknowledge the problematic perception of overseeing his own vote count. Election experts and local editorial boards widely called for Kobach to recuse himself, followed by a call for recusal from Colyer, who said in a press release that Kobach was “making public statements on national television which are inconsistent with Kansas law and may serve to suppress the vote in the ongoing primary election process”. Furthermore, Coyler’s spokesman said that Kobach’s office had told county clerks to disregard ballots with smudged postmarks and that a hotline they set up had “received countless reports [of impropriety]…Many Colyer voters had difficulties finding his name on the ballot, were forced to vote on provisional ballots, or were turned away outright for unknown reasons.”
The mounting pressure caused Kobach to recuse himself from overseeing the election results, turning over duties to his close assistant, Eric Rucker. But, Colyer’s campaign said this move did not remove the concerns of a conflict of interest as Rucker donated $1,000 to Kobach’s campaign and is an employee of his.
Other voting irregularities and discrepancies continue to plague attempts to obtain a result. There have been reporting problems in Johnson County, the most populous county in Kansas, and four counties had vote count discrepancies from the total reported by the Secretary of State, which reduced Kobach’s lead by 62 votes.
Kobach, who has been quick to point his finger at immigrants for a wide variety of state and national ills, claimed noncitizen participation skewed the primary election. But, as usual, Kobach provided no evidence for this claim, instead continuing to tilt at windmills while doing the absolute bare minimum to alleviate the perception of impropriety on his part.
None of this is surprising to those of us who have watched Kobach up close. Now, his behavior is on display for the nation. His recent actions in this election have revealed his claims of protecting election integrity as the farce they have always been. But he has continued his strategy of blaming immigrants, using junk data to divide and distract from the problems at hand. For someone who loves to point fingers at fake voting, Kobach may be on his way to a very contested and controversial winning margin. We will only likely see more of this strategy if Kobach is named the Republican nominee.