America's Voice En Español »
On June 18, a federal judge rebuked anti-immigrant researcher Steven Camarota as an expert witness in a voting rights case. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach had hired Camarota, who is Director of Research at the hate group Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), to see if a requirement to provide documentary proof of citizenship (DPOC) to register to vote was burden on Kansas voters — and Camarota botched the research, big time.
Camarota argued that Census data showed an increase in voter registration from 2010 to 2014, claiming this increase indicated DPOC — which was required during part of that period — was not burdensome to voters. The court disagreed.
In the final decision, the judge wrote, “Camarota is not qualified to explain the reasons for the change in data…or to insert assumptions into the record based on studies or academic literature regarding voter registration and turnout…he is not qualified as an expert in voter registration, voting trends, or election issues, so he is not qualified to opine on issues of causation.” Ouch.
More than just finding Camarota unqualified, the court took the time to point out the numerous flaws in Carmarota’s argument. The court found the Census data Camarota used to be less reliable than the actual registration rates made available through the Secretary of State’s office. The court found this more reliable data “demonstrates a concrete burden for thousands of voter registration applicants” — the opposite of what Camarota argued.
Moreover, the court found Camarota’s method of comparing 2010 and 2014 election data unreliable, because to claim that DPOC was not a burden from this data he had to assume the only difference in Kansas between 2010 and 2014 was the DPOC law. The court found this ridiculous assumption not to be true.
Additionally, the court criticized Camarota’s analysis because he failed to show whether the increased registrations occurred before or after the DPOC law took effect in 2013. These criticisms show Camarota failed to justify his analysis against the most basic-level questions.
The court also made note that this is the second time a court has found Camarota unqualified to testify on voter registration. Camarota was first rebuked by the courts in a Florida voting rights case in 2016 that found him not qualified to offer testimony on the degree of accuracy for voter registration rates. The district court in this case additionally found Camarota’s “analysis to be misleading and inaccurate”.
The anti-immigrant views of Camarota and CIS, which is a part of the extreme white nationalist John Tanton’s network of anti-immigrant organizations, were additionally highlighted in court. Under oath, Camarotra affirmed both his use of the the term ‘professional ethnics’ to describe immigration activists, and his belief that the English language is “the glue that holds our country together.”
Ultimately, the court ruled DPOC unconstitutional, writing that the defense failed to produce credible evidence of a problem of noncitizens voting and that DPOC “acted as a deterrent to registration and voting for substantially more eligible Kansans than it has prevented ineligible voters from registering to vote.”
After two rebukes from the court and his public anti-immigrant views, why would anyone continue to view Camarota as a credible expert?