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Archive for Sunday, May 4, 2003

Hutchinson smoking-ban vote requires separate election

May 4, 2003

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— Hutchinson's planned advisory vote on a smoking ban in restaurants may be in jeopardy because of a rule that would require the city to have a separate panel oversee the election.

Rules addressing advisory elections are sketchy, said City Atty. Carolyn Patterson. But a 1994 Kansas attorney general opinion stipulates that a separate panel of election judges and clerks must run an advisory election if it is conducted on the date of a primary or general election.

The smoking ban advisory vote was to run on the day of the 2004 August primary. The city would have to foot the bill for extra election workers.

"I want to try to avoid spending money," said Vice Mayor Brad Dillon, whose motion for the advisory vote passed the council this week.

On Friday, Patterson was preparing options for the council to consider to measure public opinion. The earliest the council would discuss its next step is May 13.

Patterson said that in her conversation with Brad Bryant, deputy assistant secretary of state for elections, he suggested inserting a survey in utility billings.

That method, however, would leave out some renters, Patterson said. Also, she said, one council member voiced reservations about how such a survey would be perceived.

Patterson also was researching the possibility of holding a binding election on smoking.

"Advisory election" appears only once in state statutes and is cited in only one opinion of the appellate courts, former Atty. Gen. Carla Stovall wrote in 1998.

Stovall referred to the 1994 opinion by her predecessor, Atty. Gen. Robert Stephan.

That opinion stated that polling places for an advisory election shouldn't be within 250 feet of the entrance for polling places in regular elections.

When Great Bend conducted an advisory vote in April 1999 on corporate slaughter operations, voters were assigned one polling location for their regular ballot and an entirely different site for the advisory vote.

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