TOPEKA, Kan. — A former legislative candidate has asked the Kansas Supreme Court to order the appointment of a grand jury to investigate Secretary of State Kris Kobach after a county judge rejected the request.

Steven Davis, a Lawrence Democrat, wants an investigation into the Republican secretary of state’s handling of online voter registrations. Davis gathered enough signatures under a Kansas law that allows citizens to petition for grand juries, but Douglas County’s top judge ruled earlier this month that the petition lacked “allegations of specific facts” that might lead to a criminal indictment.

Kobach said Tuesday that convening a grand jury would be “completely pointless.”

The American Civil Liberties Union and the League of Women Voters — which have both sued Kobach over voting rights issues — have said they haven’t seen evidence of criminal conduct at Kobach’s office. Davis said Tuesday that he’s heard anecdotes about problems that could amount to fraud or suppression of voter registrations.

Kansas is among six states allowing citizens to petition for grand juries. The Kansas law isn’t often used, but it has resulted in investigations of abortion providers and sellers of sexually oriented materials.

In his request to the state Supreme Court last week, Davis argued that the law required him to outline only “general allegations.”

“They’re claiming that there needs to be these specific facts in the petition when the role of a grand jury is in fact to find specific facts,” Davis said.

But Kobach said: “He just seems to have a political chip on his shoulder and he’s trying to use the grand jury system as a way of expressing it.”

Davis, a freelance writer and math tutor, ran in the 44th House District, losing the Democratic nomination in this month’s primary to state Rep. Barbara Ballard, of Lawrence.


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