The Kansas House has advanced a bill that would increase penalties for election crimes and give the secretary of state's office the power to prosecute cases of voter fraud. As Stephen Koranda reports, the chamber gave the bill first-round approval and will likely take a final vote on Thursday.
Supporters want to give Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach the ability to prosecute those cases because they say local prosecutors aren’t doing enough on their own. Republican Representative John Rubin is pushing for the change.
“Either they don’t want to, their caseload of other prosecutions doesn’t allow them to, they don’t get priority, whatever the reason is, these crimes are not being adequately prosecuted,” says Rubin.
But other lawmakers argue that local prosecutors may have reasons not to pursue those cases. For example, an unintentional violation of the law. Democrat Boog Highberger opposes the bill.
“In every instance, either those crimes are being prosecuted in another jurisdiction or it was clear that local authorities wisely exercised their prosecutorial discretion,” says Highberger.
The legislation has already passed the Kansas Senate.