TOPEKA, Kan. — A grand jury must be convened to investigate whether Republican gubernatorial candidate and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach intentionally failed to register voters in 2016, the Kansas Supreme Court has ruled.
The court's one-page opinion was released Friday and offered no explanation behind the ruling, which addressed Kobach's appeal of a lower court's order to summon the grand jury, the Lawrence Journal-World reported .
The high court's ruling stemmed from a petition first filed in 2016 by Steven Davis, a Lawrence resident who accused Kobach of intentionally choosing not to process online voter registrations and preventing qualified residents from voting in the 2016 election. The Douglas County District Court twice rejected Davis' petition, saying there wasn't enough evidence to support the allegations against Kobach.
But the Kansas Court of Appeals ruled that the lower court was incorrect when it said Davis needed to provide specific allegations of a crime. State law requires only general allegations. The court ordered Douglas County to summon the grand jury.
Kansas is one of six states that allow citizens to request grand juries through petitions. Citizens must gather 100 voters plus 2 percent of the number of people who voted in the county's last gubernatorial election. In Douglas County, that is 860 signatures. Davis collected 910.
Davis, 29, is currently a Democratic candidate for Kansas' 45th state House district.
Kobach is nationally known for promoting tough immigration and voter identification laws. In April, a federal judge found Kobach in contempt in a lawsuit challenging a Kansas law requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote.
Kobach won the Republican nomination for governor after narrowly defeating incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer during the primary. His Democratic challenger, state Sen. Laura Kelly, and independent candidate Greg Orman are trying to woo Republican voters alienated by Kobach's in-your-face conservatism and advocacy of tough immigration policies.