The top election official in Kansas asserted without evidence that millions of noncitizens voted in the presidential election moments after he certified the state’s election results Wednesday.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who made his first public appearance since meeting with President-elect Donald Trump last week, backed Trump’s claims that he would have won the popular vote if illegal votes were discounted.
“I think the president-elect is absolutely correct when he says the number of illegal votes cast exceeds the popular vote margin between him and Hillary Clinton at this point,” Kobach said immediately after he and other Kansas officials certified the state’s election results.
Kobach pointed to a widely disputed study released by two Old Dominion University political scientists in 2014 that found that noncitizens voted at a rate of 11.3 percent in the 2008 election. The study has been rebutted repeatedly by other election scholars.
“If we apply that number to the current presidential election … you’d have 3.2 million aliens voted in the presidential election and that far exceeds the current popular vote margin between President-elect Trump and Secretary Clinton,” Kobach said.
Kobach said he had no tangible evidence to support that statement.
“This is the problem with aliens voting and registering. There’s no way you can look at the voter rolls and say, ‘This one’s an alien, this one’s a citizen,’” Kobach said. “Once a person gets on a voter roll, you don’t have any way of easily identifying them as aliens so you have to rely on post-election studies.”
Kobach also said he had no way to prove that the majority of noncitizens would have voted for Clinton rather than Trump, but said he could make that inference based on the candidate’s policies.
“You’re right. Can you necessarily conclude that all of them voted for Hillary Clinton? No. But you can probably conclude that a very high percentage voted for Hillary Clinton given the diametric opposite positions of the candidates on the immigration issue,” Kobach said. “So let’s assume 85 percent voted for Clinton.”
Kobach has championed a Kansas law that requires voters to provide proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or passport, in order to register to vote. That law has faced numerous legal challenges.
Dale Ho, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Voting Rights Project, said in an email that the study Kobach is citing has been debunked. He noted that even one of its authors has said that it’s not plausible that illegal votes would have tipped the popular vote in Clinton’s favor.
“Kris Kobach’s assertions about large numbers of noncitizens voting are patently false, and have been rejected repeatedly by federal courts,” said Ho, who represented suspended voters in a case against Kansas’ proof of citizenship law.
Ho pointed to the recent decision by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that Kobach could not require proof of citizenship of people who register at the DMV under the federal motor voter law. Judge Jerome Holmes, an appointee of President George W. Bush, called Kobach’s argument about thousands of noncitizens potentially on Kansas voter rolls “pure speculation” in his opinion for the court.
A photograph of Kobach showed that when he met with Trump earlier in November he brought a plan for the Department of Homeland Security that included a reference to voter rolls.
Kobach, who advised Trump on immigration throughout the campaign, would not say Wednesday whether he was advising the president-elect to pursue a nationwide proof-of-citizenship requirement.
Trump began making the claims about illegal votes after Green Party candidate Jill Stein began an effort to hold recounts in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, three states that tipped the election in Trump’s favor after he won them by a combined 114,000 votes.
Clinton has a lead in the national popular vote by more than 2 million votes.