Cuomo Assails Kobach With Speculation of Vote Manipulation in His Favor

The race for the Republican nomination for Kansas governor is almost as close as close could be with just 91 votes separating frontrunner Kris Kobach, the current secretary of state, and incumbent governor Jeff Colyer. In an appearance on CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time, Kobach was badgered with questions by the show’s namesake that suggested he was possibly involved with manipulating the recount.

Host Chris Cuomo had made it clear for a long time that he was no fan of Kobach because of his efforts to investigate voter fraud across the country and support for President Trump. And right from the open, there was an insinuation that Kobach was up to no good.

91 votes currently separate the two. So either way, you’re looking at a recount under the law there very likely. But there's one thing,” Cuomo said, turning up the drama. “One of the candidates will be in charge of that recount. That candidate is Kansas's current secretary of state, Kris Kobach as I told you in the open.

Right away, Cuomo questioned Kobach on whether or not he was going to comply with his opponent’s wishes and recuse himself from the recount. “Yeah, we'll be formally answering his request tomorrow, but I'll give you a heads-up. Yes, I'll be happy to recuse myself,” Kobach answered. The Secretary of State also explained that the recusal was more of sportsmanly gesture because his office did not oversee the recount.

Kobach’s answer didn’t seem like the one the CNN host planned on him saying because all of Cuomo’s other speculation was predicated on his guest staying in control.

 

 

For instance, Cuomo tried to suggest there might be some shenanigans by Kobach when it came to setting the cost for the recount. “Whoever asks for a recount has to post bond. The secretary of state gets to set the bond,” Cuomo claimed. “There’s going to be an ethical question about whether or not you’re being fair with whatever bond is set. Why deal with that in an election, especially intra-party, you might as well step away, right?

Kobach just told him he planned to recuse himself so the question was silly. That’s not to mention that Cuomo’s explanation of the process was completely inaccurate. “[People lower in the department] just estimate the cost to the counties of the man-hours it would take to do all of the labor. So it's not something I get involved in any way,” Kobach schooled Cuomo.

But Cuomo’s speculation about impropriates from Kobach took a darker turn when he appeared to accuse the Secretary of State of manipulating vote totals:

But the reason I ask you about whether your office is the same in the main count versus the recount is because Shelly Harms, the Thomas County clerk. She says they counted 522 votes for your opponent. And that she showed a scan to the Kansas City Star the form that showed 522 votes. Yet somehow, when it got to your office, it became communicated as 422 votes. That smells bad, does it not, Mr. Secretary of state?

“Well, if you put it in context, it smells normal,” Kobach shot back. “In fact, this is one of more than a dozen errors that we've already discovered. And that’s why they’re called unofficial results on election night.” After Kobach argued that Cuomo’s fears meant that most secretaries of state would have to recuee themselves for their own elections, Cuomo admitted he was only interested in Kobach’s race.

Later in the interview, Cuomo unironically got into a heated argument where he declared Kobach’s concerns about voter fraud were unfounded.

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

 

 

CNN
Cuomo Prime Time
August 9, 2018
9:01:46 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS CUOMO: All right. So we're talking about an election that pits a Trump loyalist against the sitting governor, the same party, and the margin is razor thin. 91 votes currently separate the two. So either way, you’re looking at a recount under the law there very likely. But there's one thing. One of the candidates will be in charge of that recount. That candidate is Kansas's current secretary of state, Kris Kobach as I told you in the open. His opponent is the sitting governor. He is asking Kobach to recuse himself. Will Secretary Kobach accede to the governor's wish? We have him right now.

(…)

CUOMO: So the obvious question is, are you going to recuse yourself?

(…)

KRIS KOBACH: Yeah, we'll be formally answering his request tomorrow, but I'll give you a heads-up. Yes, I'll be happy to recuse myself. But as I say, it really doesn't make any difference. My office doesn't count the votes, the counties do.

(…)

CUOMO: So it's the same as it was during the regular vote, that’s what would happen during the recount?

KOBACH: Yeah, but of course the recount does have some peculiarities defined by law.

CUOMO: Like setting a bond. Whoever asks for a recount has to post bond. The secretary of state gets to set the bond. There’s going to be an ethical question about whether or not you’re being fair with whatever bond is set. Why deal with that in an election, especially intra-party, you might as well step away, right?

KOBACH: Right, and that’s what I’m going to do.

CUOMO: Let me ask you why I'm asking about a recount.

KOBACH: By the way, the bond is –

CUOMO: Go ahead, what about the bond?

KOBACH: Yeah, the bond is set by the election officials lower down in agency anyway. They just estimate the cost to the counties of the man-hours it would take to do all of the labor. So it's not something I get involved in any way.

CUOMO: But look, here’s the game we’re playing here. It’s not about whether there’s a law that says you have to step away or whether or not you have direct control over it. It's the semblance of impropriety. You know, it's what see fishy, and that's really the standard that public officials should adhere to.

(…)

CUOMO: But the reason I ask you about whether your office is the same in the main count versus the recount is because Shelly Harms, the Thomas County clerk. She says they counted 522 votes for your opponent. And that she showed a scan to the Kansas City Star the form that showed 522 votes. Yet somehow, when it got to your office, it became communicated as 422 votes. That smells bad, does it not, Mr. Secretary of state?

KOBACH: Well, if you put it in context, it smells normal. Every year there are at least a dozen clerical errors that happen in the transcribing. So we do this the old-school way, and most states do it the old-school way to avoid put things-- upload to an internet site which can be hacked. So you're literally communicating vote tallies phone and people are typing them in. And there will be keystroke errors all the time. In fact, this is one of more than a dozen errors that we've already discovered. And that’s why they’re called unofficial results on election night. And every state has this. Kansas has this every year. There will be multiple transcription errors.

CUOMO: But you get why it raises a question of propriety?

(…)

KOBACH: Well, you should think through this Chris, because the majority of states have elected secretaries of state, and they oversee the elections in which they are running. So by your logic, you should never have elected secretaries state because they are overseeing their own elections. And I understand that –

CUOMO: But you have to add a fact though. The fact is, this race is razor thin in its margin and it’s going to go to a recount. It doesn’t matter if you wind up winning by eight or nine points, right? So you got to factor that into the context also. I don’t think it’s an endemic problem where all secretaries of state must somehow be sanctioned for when they run a race. This is special.

KOBACH: No. My point is, your suggestion of your argument is that whenever a secretary of state – that there’s something inherently wrong with a secretary of state overseeing –

CUOMO: No. Just in this case.

(…)


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