A federal judge ordered Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach held in contempt of court on Wednesday for disobeying her orders in a lawsuit over the state’s voter registration laws.
Kobach failed to send Kansas residents postcards confirming their registration status, as U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson had ordered. Prior to the November 2016 elections, Kobach had promised Robinson that he would send the postcards to let Kansans know they’d be allowed to participate.
“Kansans have come to expect these postcards to confirm their registration status, and Defendant ensured the Court on the record that they had been sent prior to the 2016 general election,” Judge Robinson said in her ruling. “They were not, and the fact that he sent a different notice to those voters does not wholly remove the contempt, nor does his attempt to resend postcards eighteen months after the election and five months after Plaintiffs notified him of the issue.”
In May of 2016, Kobach, a former member of Trump’s voter fraud commission, was ordered to “register for federal elections all otherwise eligible motor voter registration applicants,” regardless of whether or not they’d shown proof of citizenship.
Last month, Robinson admonished Kobach for failing to fully comply with these court orders, which included adding voters to the rolls, making eligible voters cast provisional ballots, and sending voters a postcard to notify them of their registration status.
“You have a duty to tell them that and to assure me that they complied,” Robinson said in March, referring to county election officials, whom Kobach had blamed for not sending out the postcards. “It’s your duty to make sure they do what they are supposed to do and abide by the law.”
Kobach has repeatedly made comedic errors while representing himself in this landmark case, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). It’s one of several lawsuits challenging a 2011 Kansas law, introduced by Kobach, which requires proof of citizenship in order to complete voter registration. Last June, Kobach was also fined $1,000 for intentionally misleading the court about a document he carried into a 2016 meeting with Donald Trump.
In addition to being held in contempt Wednesday, Robinson ordered that Kobach cover the attorneys fees of his challengers, but said she’d hold off on further actions until her final decision on the ACLU’s lawsuit.
The ACLU has argued that Kobach’s law unnecessarily restricts certain groups from voting, including minorities, and that Kobach has failed to prove that voter fraud is an endemic problem.