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Archive for Friday, December 15, 2000

Kansas to discuss electoral reform

December 15, 2000

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— The secretary of state's office is breaking with tradition by making this year's meeting of Kansas electors a big deal.

Members of the Electoral College plan to meet in their home states Monday to pick the president and vice president. Kansas has six electors.

Here are the members of a panel appointed by Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh to discuss the Electoral College. Former Secretary of State Jack Brier, moderator. Jim Concannon, Washburn University Law School dean. Ruth Garvey-Fink, Topeka businesswoman. Mike Glassner, former special assistant to former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole. Mark Joslyn, Kansas University political science and government assistant professor. Mel Kahn, Wichita State University political science professor. Former Kansas House Speaker Bill Mitchell. Pat Hurley, lobbyist, former Kansas secretary of administration Emerson Lynn Jr., Iola Register editor and publisher. Former U.S. Rep. Jan Meyers. Steve Rose, former publisher, Sun Newspapers. Former U.S. Rep. Bill Roy Sr.

Typically, the Kansas meeting is perfunctory, held around an ornate table in the secretary of state's office, carved decades ago by a prison inmate. The business usually is completed in less than a half hour.

Of course, this year wasn't typical, because of the close presidential race in Florida and the 36 days of legal challenges that followed. Democrat Al Gore conceded Florida's 25 electors to Republican George W. Bush, leaving Bush with 271 electoral votes to Gore's 267.

Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh saw the drawn out process and heightened public interest in the Electoral College as a reason to handle the meeting of electors differently.

He has assembled a panel of politicians, scholars and business people to discuss the Electoral College. The panel could issue a report, either assessing the value of the Electoral College or proposing changes in state law.

Brad Bryant, deputy assistant secretary of state for elections, also noted that Thornburgh will serve this year as president of the National Association of Secretaries of State.

"He's going to be involved in the discussion nationally," Bryant said.

The panel appointed by Thornburgh plans to meet at 9:30 a.m. in the Old Supreme Court Room in the Statehouse. The committee plans to break at 11:30 a.m., so the electors can meet in the same room at noon. Bryant expects the electors' meeting to take about 30 minutes. The panel is scheduled to reconvene at 1:30 p.m.

In Kansas, the candidate winning the popular vote gets all the electoral votes. The results this year in Kansas never have been in doubt.

Bush carried Kansas with 58 percent of the vote, and his slate of electors were chosen during a state Republican Committee meeting in May.

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