A federal judge has ordered that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach be held in contempt of court for disobeying her orders in the proof-of-citizenship voter registration case. She also found that Kobach's office did not send postcards to such voters, who had not shown proof-of-citizenship documents when they registered, as the judge required.
The ACLU argued Kobach had previously refused to give such notices to voters who had not provided citizenship documentation.
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Dale Ho, the director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, said in a statement, "the judge found that Kris Kobach disobeyed the court's orders by failing to provide registered voters with consistent information, that he willfully failed to ensure that county elections officials were properly trained, and that he has a 'history of noncompliance and disrespect for the court's decisions". Kobach's office said after the trial that it had given written orders to the county officials to send the postcards, but Robinson said on Wednesday that was "too little, too late".
"The term "register" is not ambiguous", Robinson wrote in her 25-page ruling, "nor should there have been any question that these voters were to be treated just like any other registered voter prior to the 2016 election, particularly after the state court decision requiring him to register them for state and local elections as well".
Kobach defended his DPOC law claiming it restricted non-citizens from voting in the state of Kansas, curbing voter fraud.
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Rep. Keith Esau, an Olathe Republican who is running for secretary of state, defended Kobach.
The judge also criticized Kobach for appearing to throw his staff under the bus in his ever-changing defenses of his actions regarding her 2016 order, and said she was "troubled by Defendant's failure to take responsibility for violating this Court's order".
But Kobach also didn't update the state's election manual to reflect that people didn't have to prove their citizenship to register to vote, leaving state election officials without clear guidance to inform confused constituents. She said Kobach has been regularly disrespectful to the court showing "non-compliance" to court rulings. Robinson has not yet filed a ruling in the larger lawsuit over the state's voter identification law. Robinson says Kobach, now the Kansas Secretary of State, refused to update language on his office's website which indicated that new voter applicants may not have that right after the November 2016 elections. But after the order, Kobach was required to send affected voters a new notice to let them know they could disregard any previous notices telling them they weren't fully registered and that they could look up their polling place online.
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