The Volokh Conspiracy

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Volokh Conspiracy

Grand Jury to Investigate Kris Kobach

Another bad legal development for the Kansas Secretary of State and Gubernatorial hopeful.


In June, a federal judge sanctioned Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach for "a pattern and practice . . . of flaunting disclosure and discovery rules" in litigation challenging controversial election reforms Kobach had championed.

This week, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that a local county must seat a "citizen-initiated grand jury" to investigate allegations that, as Secretary of State, Kobach mishandled voter registration information in 2016. The Lawrence Journal-World reports:

In a one-page order signed by Chief Justice Lawton Nuss, the court denied Kobach's request to review a Kansas Court of Appeals decision in June that said Lawrence resident Steven Davis had met the legal requirement for circulating petitions to summon a grand jury. . . .

Davis, a Lawrence resident who ran unsuccessfully for the Kansas House in the 2016 and 2018 Democratic primaries, circulated petitions following the 2016 elections, calling for a grand jury to investigate whether Kobach or others in his office had engaged in "destroying, obstructing, or failing to deliver online voter registration," as well as possessing falsely made or altered registration books, preventing qualified electors from voting, and "being grossly neglectful with respect to their election duties."

Kobach's office has rejected the allegations, saying they relate to a short period of time in 2016 when certain online voter registration systems were malfunctioning and that those problems have since been resolved.

Kobach claims the effort to empanel a grand jury is politically motivated. Maybe so, but that hardly means Kobach is innocent. Indeed, given his history of sanctionable conduct, I am not sure he deserves the benefit of the doubt.