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Kobach Office Could Get Expanded Power Soon

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says he is close to winning legislative approval for new power for his office to investigate and prosecute election fraud cases. 

Secretary of State Kobach said Friday he's optimistic lawmakers will approve the bill when they reconvene this week to wrap up their business for the year.

The House and Senate have approved different versions of Kobach's bill, setting up negotiations over the final version. Lead House negotiator Lance Kinzer said Kobach's proposal is on track to pass.

Under current law, Kobach's office can collect reports of election irregularities but must turn them over to county, state or federal prosecutors to pursue. Kobach argues those officials are often too busy with other cases.

Rep. Jan Pauls, a Hutchinson Democrat, said if legislators want a state official to have the specific authority to prosecute election fraud cases, it should go to the attorney general's office.

Kobach's critics also contend that he's overstated the potential for election abuses both in pushing for expanded authority for his office and successfully pursuing the photo ID and proof-of-citizenship laws in Kansas.