Ballot rejected for using foreign ID

The Douglas County election canvass committee on Thursday rejected the provisional ballot of a voter who presented a Russian identification card during the Aug. 7 primary in protest of Kansas’ voter ID law.

How the canvass worked

Douglas County Sheriff Ken McGovern and County Commissioners Nancy Thellman and Mike Gaughan performed the election canvass for the Aug. 7 primary in a meeting Thursday in the County Courthouse. They reviewed the poll books, ballot tabulator tapes, provisional ballot requests and list of write-in candidates.

County Clerk Jamie Shew said that none of the races was close enough to have been affected by acceptance or denial of provisional ballots.

The committee rejected 59 votes that Shew had recommended not be counted. These contested ballots included 23 from people not registered in Douglas County, 13 who broke party affiliation rules, six advance voters who didn’t sign their ballots and 15 provisional voters who did not provide the clerk’s office with proof of ID between the primary and Thursday’s canvass. Shew said most of these 15 people had been contacted and had told clerk’s office employees that they did not present ID in protest of the law. In total, 170 provisional ballots were cast.

County Clerk Jamie Shew presented Nathan Pettengill’s ballot to the committee Thursday morning as one of two votes he suggested the committee decide whether to accept. Pettengill told the committee he did not intend “to make a political statement but to point out a need for clarification in the law.” Kansas law doesn’t specifically state that the ID presented to vote has to be issued by the United States federal government, he said, and it does not require an ID to not be expired.

Pettengill chose to identify himself as the voter in question by attending the canvass and speaking to the committee. He is an employee of Sunflower Publishing, which, like the Journal-World, is owned by the World Company.

Shew gave committee members — Sheriff Ken McGovern and County Commissioners Mike Gaughan and Nancy Thellman — a letter from Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office contesting Pettengill’s claim. According to the letter, the term “federal” in the Kansas law refers only to the United States federal government. Regardless, Pettengill said, only the Legislature should define laws, not the secretary of state.

He wasn’t the only voter to attempt a protest. Out of the 46 provisional ballots given because of the new law, 15 people told the clerk’s office they had no intention to provide proof of ID because of their political objections, Shew said.

Gaughan said that he thought the voter ID law “is poorly written” but that it wasn’t the committee’s place to protest or try to change it. Thellman agreed, saying that the arena for making the political argument about the law should be outside the election. All three committee members voted to not count Pettengill’s provisional ballot in the official election results.

The other “no recommendation” ballot was cast by someone who attempted to vote five minutes after the polling place had closed. Citing that the committee had voted before to not count these kinds of ballots, all three members voted against counting this ballot in the official results as well.

Shew recommended counting 109 provisional ballots, all of which were accepted.