If you think the metastasizing problem of photo voter ID laws has no connection to anti-immigrant, “illegal alien” paranoia, one need only examine the example of Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach. Not satisfied with the strict photo voter ID bill he helped become law in Kansas last year, Kobach also created a law that would make first-time voter registrants show proof of their citizenship—a law that isn’t slated to kick in until 2013, but which Kobach wants in place by this November’s elections. State senators recently blocked Kobach’s wishes to speed up the proof of citizenship requirement, but it’s clear where the secretary of state is headed with this: a system where anyone who is an immigrant, or even looks like they might be an immigrant, but is eligible to vote will feel discouraged from showing up at the polls to exercise their franchise toward democracy.
As Kobach keeps upping the ante for who can vote in his own state, he’s also traveling around the country kibitzing in conversations around how to make voting and immigration more difficult in other states. Note the recent report from KanVote, which through freedom of information act requests documented Kobach’s calendar and whereabouts for much of the last year. It shows Kobach spending more time lawyering immigration cases in states like Nebraska, California and Pennsylvania than he has been spending time helping Kansas government agencies administer the photo voter ID law he imposed on voters. It also shows him gathering at events sponsored by the controversial American Legislative Exchange Council and with groups that have taken hard stances against immigration.
Remember that Kobach is behind the notorious anti-immigrant bills in Arizona (SB 1070) and Alabama (HB 56). (For a perfect graphic of Kobach’s ties to anti-immigrant bills in Alabama and beyond peep this from Mother Jones), both of which have been challenged by courts and the federal government. And deny as he may his connections to organizations that have little value for South American immigrants, there is plenty of evidence that Kobach has been pallin’ around with such groups, as spelled out recently by Heidi Beirich at HateWatch.
One particular group to look at that Kobach has been hobnobbing with, as seen in the KanVote files, is the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License, a group formed after 9/11 that believes a specialized identification card should be created in order to keep “foreigners” and “terrorists” out of the country. As said on their site:
CSDL supports strengthening driver’s license rules at the state level so state officials do not issue licenses to anyone who will not provide substantive proof of identity, regardless of the applicants’ reason for not doing so. … Authenticating identity of driver’s license applicants will keep drunks and reckless drivers from getting new licenses under assumed or changed names, help prevent underage drinking and smoking,* reduce voter fraud*, help protect against identity theft, help law enforcement find deadbeat dads, and unmask sexual predators using fraudulent identities to hide from arrest warrants and sex offender requirements.