Democrats angry over the wave of voter ID laws being implemented in Republican-led states have ACORN to thank, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Thursday.
Kobach, speaking at a Heritage Foundation panel cosponsored by the tea party-affiliated group True the Vote, said that instances of voter registration fraud committed by individuals working for the now-defunct organization known as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now brought public attention to election integrity issues.
“This issue really didn’t reach the public consciousness … until after the 2008 election cycle, when there was so much focus on ACORN,” Kobach said. “That one group was just all over the news media and people started hearing about it.”
ACORN folded as a national organization in 2010 after coming under attack from conservatives. The organization was criticized because workers it paid to register low-income voters submitted fraudulent applications. ACORN, like all voter registration groups, was required under many state laws to turn over all applications it received even if it believed they were illegitimate, though the organization said it flagged suspected fraudulent cards to election officials.
“So state legislators began hearing this and many of them … got the idea that ‘hey, I think that’s kind of an important issue.’ And so I think it got elevated to the national consciousness in the 2008, 2009 period and that’s why you saw many newly elected legislators in 2010 being very interested in passing these laws in 2011,” Kobach said.
Kobach, who launched a “Got Voter ID?” campaign to educate Kansas voters about his state’s new requirement, also criticized the Justice Department for blocking voter ID laws in South Carolina and Texas under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
Watch video of Kobach’s remarks on ACORN below.