[4/18/17] On April 12, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach announced that he has obtained his first conviction of a non-U.S. citizen who illegally voted in a Kansas election.
A press release posted by Kobach’s office on his departmental web page noted that he had secured a guilty plea on April 7 in the voter fraud case of Victor David Garcia Bebek, a noncitizen who pleaded guilty to three counts of voting without being qualified, a class A misdemeanor. The case was brought in Sedgwick County District Court.
Bebek voted on three separate occasions, including a 2012 special election, the 2012 general election, and the 2014 general election. Under the plea agreement, Bebek was placed on unsupervised probation for a period of up to three years and must pay a $5,000 fine. Probation will terminate upon payment of the fine.
The release noted that the Bebek case was the eighth conviction that Kobach obtained since he obtained the authority to prosecute voter fraud in July 2015. However, it was the first for the crime of a noncitizen voting. The others were convictions of people who “double-voted” — that is, they were citizens who voted in Kansas and another state.
“This conviction shows how important prosecutorial authority is,” Kobach said.
Kobach is the only secretary of state in the country with the authority to prosecute voter fraud. Since assuming the authority to prosecute election-related crimes, he has secured $29,000 in fines.
The Kansas City Star cited Kobach’s explanation of how Bebek’s crime had been discovered. Bebek became a U.S. citizen earlier this year and at his naturalization ceremony, he was offered the chance to register to vote in Sedgwick County.
“This gentleman did so, and then when the Sedgwick County election office went back to the office to enter his information, they found that he had been on the voter rolls since 2011,” Kobach said in a phone interview with the Star.
“No matter how many cases we prosecute the political left will always whine that there’s not enough cases to justify protecting our elections in this way,” Kobach continued. “That’s absurd.”
Kobach was elected in 2010 on a platform of securing the integrity of elections. In 2011, he introduced, and the Kansas legislature adopted, the Secure and Fair Elections (SAFE) Act, which requires proof of citizenship at the time of registration and photo identification at the time of voting.