TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas’ top election official said Thursday that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was justified in refusing to promise now that he’ll accept the election results, even as the state party chief and a GOP senator on the ballot urged candidates to do so.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach called criticism of Trump over his refusal during Wednesday night’s presidential debate to commit to accepting the results “rather amusing.” He said no candidate should concede if the race is close and there are questions about the count, citing the 2000 contest in Florida, decided by fewer than 1,000 votes out of nearly 6 million cast.
Trump has claimed that the election might be “rigged” against him. Kobach said he takes those comments to mean close results in several battleground states are susceptible to election fraud, which Kobach termed “entirely plausible.”
Fellow Republicans across the nation condemned Trump’s refusal to agree to accept the election results. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican expected to win a second term easily over Democrat Patrick Wiesner, said in a statement that democracy “depends on our country’s ability to elect our leaders in a fair and open process.”
“And, for more than 200 years, we the people have respected the outcome of our elections,” Moran said. “I will accept the will of Kansans and Americans, and encourage all candidates running for public office to do the same.”
A conservative Republican, Kobach was an early Trump supporter in Kansas. He has defended Trump as he has made unsubstantiated claims that election fraud could cost him the White House.
Kobach also is the architect of tough state voter identification laws and has argued that illegal voting by non-citizens is a serious threat. A recent Loyola Law School professor’s study documented only 31 cases alleging voter impersonation out of 1 billion votes cast in U.S. elections from 2000 through 2014.
Clay Barker, the Kansas Republican Party’s executive director, said it will accept the election results when the Electoral College meets in December to formally choose the president.
“If it’s clear what the end result’s going to be, you concede,” Barker said. “This isn’t a Third World banana republic where more people vote than are registered or something like that.”
Between 2003 and 2013, when Kansas imposed a requirement that new voters present papers to document their U.S. citizenship when registering, the state documented 30 cases in which non-citizens registered. The requirement blocked 14 non-citizens from registering in Sedgwick County. The figures are contained in a federal appeals court ruling in a lawsuit against the proof-of-citizenship requirement.
“There’s no reasonable basis for thinking that non-citizens are going to vote in substantial numbers in this election,” said Jonathan Brater, counsel for the voting-rights Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice.