Secretary of State Kris Kobach was in a contempt of court hearing today. He is alleged to have violated parts of the preliminary injunction granted by Judge Julie Robinson in Fish v. Kobach.
The injunction ordered Secretary Kobach to register to vote those who registered at the DMV but failed to provide documentary proof of citizenship.
Secretary Kobach faced two allegations.
First, that he failed to update the county elections manual to comply with the injunction. The manual had previously been available online and served as the guidebook for local county election officials. Secretary Kobach revealed to the court today that instead of updating the manual he merely removed it from the website.
Second, that the voters registered under the injunction did not receive the same voter registration postcard that other registered voters received. Instead, they mailed a corrective notice outlined by the court to avoid a previous contempt charge.
Secretary Kobach claimed that he, and his office, were in full compliance with Judge Robinson’s written court order. Arguing that the written court order did not specify on the postcards be sent and that verbal instruction was given but not followed at the county level. But like the removal of the manual, the Plaintiffs argued that the claim that verbal instruction was given to send out the postcards was made for the first time today.
The lack of compliance at the county level, Secretary Kobach claimed, stemmed from his inability to compel action as they are not employees of the Secretary of State’s Office.
Visibly agitated by Secretary Kobach’s responses Judge Robison told him it’s “your duty to make sure county elections officers follow the law,” and “you had no problem for DPOC (documentary proof of citizenship).” Reminding Secretary Kobach that her injunction is the law and compline should not await a ruling from the Supreme Court.
Furthermore, Judge Robinson said that Secretary Kobach made insurances to her in an oral hearing that postcards were being sent. Based on this insurance there was no need to put such qualifications in the written court order said, Judge Robinson.
Increasing agitated by Secretary Kobach’s defense, Judge Robinson said that it is his “job to comply” with the injunction fully. Every document that the public can access needs to reflect the court order, she said.
The manual “should have been changed” said Judge Robison, and any suggestion that it cannot be is “ridiculous.” She continued that it is “definitely important” that changes are made as the injunction initially covered over 35,000 Kansans.
Judge Robinson concluded that the “we will fix it” mantra from Secretary Kobach was wearing thin, saying that he has “repeatedly not complied” with her injunction.
We await a ruling from Judge Robison on both the contempt and the overall decision in the case.