July 20, 2024

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Voter fraud prosecution may shift to Attorney General

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Attorney General Derek Schmidt advocated to a Kansas House committee to eliminate the Kansas Secretary of State’s authority to prosecute voter fraud cases. Schmidt testified in favor of the law that gave the Secretary of State prosecutorial authority a few years ago, but told a House committee today that things have changed since then.

“First, the current Secretary of State doesn’t want to prosecute these cases,” Schmidt said. “It seems a natural time to consider consolidating that authority.”

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt

Schmidt told the committee Schwab’s administration doesn’t include any experienced prosecutors, and that changes to the Attorney General’s office in the last few years also created a reason for a policy change. For example, the AG’s office now has a fraud and abuse division so its attorneys won’t have to be concerned about dividing resources between election crimes and others like homicide and sex trafficking. Securities fraud prosecutions have also been transferred from the insurance commissioner’s office to the AG, so Schmidt said it makes sense to consolidate.

Scott Schwab, the current secretary of state, didn’t offer verbal testimony to the committee, but he supplied written testimony in support of repealing the 2015 law. Schwab replaced former Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a staunch advocate of the measure, earlier this month.

Kobach didn’t testify before the House committee, but he opposes changing the law.

“Prosecutorial authority has allowed for the prosecution of more than a dozen voter fraud cases in just a few years,” Kobach said. “…The Secretary of State’s Office needs this authority even if the current occupant isn’t interested in using it. Voter fraud will still be a threat long after we are all gone.”

If lawmakers repeal the secretary of state’s prosecutorial authority, the Attorney General’s office will prosecute voter fraud cases referred to it by county attorneys and from the secretary of state’s office. County attorneys would maintain the authority to prosecute voter fraud as well.

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