WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A man has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of voter fraud in Kansas.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach says this is the fourth case of voter fraud conviction since he was given the power to prosecute such cases in July of 2015. In most of the cases, those convicted were due to Kansas residents voting in more than one state.
Ron R. Weems,77, pleaded guilty Wednesday morning to three misdemeanor charges of voting twice in the same election in two different states. His attorney, Jim McIntyre says Weems has no criminal history and never intended to break the law.
Weems has two homes, one in Kansas and another in Colorado. McIntyre says Weems voted in both states intending only to vote for the local options, and only cast his ballot for local elections in both state. Weems never voted twice for the same candidate for office.
“Even though he voted twice in the same election cycle in two different states, he didn’t vote twice for statewide elections and/or presidential elections,” McIntyre said.
Kobach said in a news release Wednesday, “I want there to be no doubt that violators of our election laws will be prosecuted and will pay significant penalties. In Kansas, if you double vote we will catch you, and you will pay a very heavy penalty.”
The State of Kansas established prosecutorial authority in 2015 that allows the Secretary of State to charge voters who break the law to be punished.
Wednesday night, Koback told KSN, “We take very seriously the principle of American Democracy, one person, one vote. You don’t get to vote twice. “When a person commits serial crimes again and again and again, it’s time that the state stops that person from committing that crime, and I think it would be pretty outrageous for somebody to say, “Oh, he’s only committed the crime three times and he’s in his seventies, so let him keep voting twice.”
Weems was fined $5,660, essentially closing the case against him. But Kobach said the amount of the fine is important.
“In my view, the appropriate response is to send the message with a very heavy fine,” said Kobach.
Kobach said the cases are cost-effective for the state. But, when asked how much each one costs to prosecute, he could not provide a figure.
He said Kansas is one of 30 other states that have an automatic system in place to catch voter fraud.
“Every year, we compare our voter roles to see if people have been voting in more than one state and this is done automatically by a computer system,” said Kobach.