Kobach refuses to recuse himself from recount effort

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) said he will not recuse himself from a potential recount effort in the state’s GOP gubernatorial primary, despite being a candidate in the race.

Kobach said Wednesday that he has no plans to recuse himself, saying that while his office oversees recounts, it does not directly participate in vote-counting, according to The Kansas City Star.

“The recount thing is done on a county level, so the secretary of state does not actually participate directly in the recount,” Kobach said at a campaign event, according to the Star.

As of Wednesday, Kobach was leading incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) by fewer than 200 votes in the closely watched race. According to Kansas law, Colyer may request a state-funded recount if the margin between the two is 0.5 percentage points or less.


But if Colyer requests a hand recount after all provisional and mail-in ballots are counted, Kobach’s office will decide how much Colyer’s campaign would have to pay for a recount, the Star reported.

Kobach is not required by law to recuse himself, but legal and political experts told the Star that it would be in Kobach’s best interest to do so. 

Mark Johnson, an election law expert at a Kansas City law firm who represented a plaintiff in one federal lawsuit against Kobach earlier this year, told the paper that recusal would “remove any appearance of impropriety” for Kobach.

“If he did not recuse himself I don’t think he could exercise any influence in the count because it’s going to be such a public process,” Johnson said.

Kobach, a controversial immigration hard-liner who has faced criticism from the left for his efforts to pass stronger voter ID laws, received a last-minute endorsement from President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE via Twitter.

Kobach served as the vice chairman of Trump’s now-defunct voter fraud commission, which the president set up to investigate what he claimed were millions of illegal votes cast in the 2016 election.

— Updated 9:20 p.m.

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