Let's check in with Kris Kobach's illegal voter quest

Kobach's absurd claims fall apart in court

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published March 14, 2018 10:23AM (EDT)

 (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach wants Americans to believe that voter fraud is such a pervasive problem that it could even explain how Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. It's one thing to point out that the overwhelming majority of political experts disagree with his assertion; even his own expert, however, won't back up his claim.

During a trial over Kansas' restrictive voter registration law, political scientist Jesse Richman was unable to support many of his claims as he was interrogated by two lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal. Richman was testifying as an expert witness for Kobach, who has pointed to Richman's work in order to back up his own theories about voter fraud during the 2016 presidential election. Richman himself admitted that one of Kobach's most controversial claims — namely, that roughly 3 million people voted illegally during the 2016 presidential election — was not supported by either his own study or those of any other scholars he is aware of.

Richman also acknowledged that his study, which concluded that "6.4 percent of noncitizens voted in 2008," had not been reviewed by his peers and was later condemned by 200 political scientists. The Old Dominion University professor was also unable to effectively explain a number of errors in how his survey was conducted, such as it using estimates based on small-sample surveys.

Perhaps the most shocking moment for Richman occurred when he was caught engaging in blatant racial profiling:

In another survey, Richman looked at suspended voters — those who didn’t provide proof of citizenship — and flagged any names that appeared to be foreign. Ho asked if, for example, a name like “Carlos Murguia” would be flagged. When Richman said yes, Ho informed him Murguia is a federal judge in the same courthouse where the trial is taking place.

Kobach himself has been a source of support for Trump as the latter has repeatedly tried to shore up his electoral legitimacy by falsely insisting that he actually won the popular vote. The Kansas Secretary of State is currently making a bid to become that state's next governor.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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