A Democratic legislator in a close re-election fight alleged Thursday that Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach was trying to deflect scrutiny of a voter ID law he championed when he filed an unsuccessful lawsuit aimed at preventing her from contacting constituents who cast provisional ballots.
But Kobach rejected the criticism from state Rep. Ann Mah of Topeka, saying he has repeatedly given her and other legislators detailed information about the law's administration.
Mah, one of Kobach's most persistent critics, trailed Republican challenger Ken Corbet of Topeka by 42 votes out of nearly 10,700 cast in her race as officials in Douglas and Shawnee counties reviewed provisional ballots Thursday.
The 54th House District also includes parts of Osage County, but it certified its results Monday by reviewing provisional ballots without releasing voters' names to the candidates. Corbet had a net gain of 17 votes in Osage County but a net loss of two in Douglas County. Shawnee County officials said they expected to declare a winner Thursday night.
Mah and her supporters sought to contact provisional voters and help them correct potential problems — including the lack of a valid photo ID — so that their ballots would be counted, hoping that she'd pick up enough votes to overcome Corbet's lead. But Mah said Thursday that contacting provisional voters also would help her and others gather information about the effects of the voter ID law.
Kobach, a former law professor, is known nationally for helping draft Arizona and Alabama laws cracking down on illegal immigration, but he also championed the voter ID law in Kansas as a way to combat election fraud.