Archive for Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fresh air

The situation was a little chaotic, but the outcome of the recent redistricting scramble is a breath of fresh air for Kansas voters.

June 13, 2012


The speed with which candidates had to respond to new legislative and congressional district lines handed down late Thursday made the process a little chaotic, but the end result wasn’t all bad for the state and its residents.

The new lines drawn by three federal judges after legislators deadlocked on the process was the political equivalent of that old children’s game, Fruit Basket Upset. After setting political considerations aside, judges produced legislative and congressional districts for the state that were far different from the districts that had been engineered for decades to protect incumbent officeholders, particularly those in the majority party. Just like that, dozens of state legislators found they were no longer living in their districts or that one or two other incumbents had joined them in those districts. In about 25 House and Senate districts, there were no incumbents.

Political leaders described the new district maps in a number of ways: disruptive, confusing and simply “a mess.” Yet, for Kansas voters, the events of the last few days also have been a democratic breath of fresh air. The judges’ maps stirred up Kansas politics in an arguably positive way.

The shake-up opened the door to dozens of candidates who may not otherwise have run because they saw little chance of winning against an incumbent officeholder. It forced many incumbents to re-evaluate their constituencies and rethink their political futures. Some changed residences to stick with old constituencies or seek out new ones; others decided it was simply time to step down. Those who decided to make the race will have to prove their worth to a new voter base rather than riding their incumbent record and name recognition to an easy victory.

In recent years, dozens of Kansas legislators were elected without opposition even from the other parties. A few incumbents — including two from Lawrence, Rep. Paul Davis and Rep. Tom Sloan — have that luxury this year, but far more — including Rep. Barbara Ballard and Sen Marci Franciso — have competition from the opposing party, their own party, or both. Voters will have many reasons to vote in the Aug. 7 primary, which will narrow the field in dozens of legislative races.

As often has been noted in this space, contested elections force candidates to articulate and clarify their positions on many issues and allow voters to become better informed about the people they elect to represent them. They allow constituents to have a real choice.

The Legislature’s failure to complete its redistricting duties this year certainly was deplorable, and in some ways, many of those legislators now are paying the price. Rather than predictable, uncompetitive races that return most incumbents to office, the state is getting an election season filled with interesting contests and meaningful choices. That’s a big win for Kansas voters.


Lawrence Morgan 6 years ago

I completely agree. Let's have a real competition and find out what candidates really think about and mean before they (possibly) get reelected!

Richard Heckler 6 years ago

If a voter is registered to vote GO VOTE no matter what some line of misinformation may come your way.

Let's not get overwhelmed by this new "fresh air" concept. Brownback,Kobach and such have other tools at their disposal and the " big special interest bucks " to put these tools in place. No matter how corrupt and dishonest Brownback/Kobach will not be playing fair.

The Wisconsin fiasco is a case in point in which the same money is also tied to Brownback/Kobach. Let's not kid ourselves about what can happen in the upcoming election when considering lies and misinformation.

Richard Heckler 6 years ago

What happened in Wisconsin? ALEC/Koch/Walton family money follows very corrupt politics.

Massive Misinformation Machine Confused Wisconsin Voters = do recall vote AGAIN

Election Protection Hotline Keeping Busy with Confused Voter Calls

Questions about requirements for Election Day Registration, poll workers improperly asking voters' ID and deceptive robocalls suggesting voters who signed petitions or voted in earlier elections did not have to vote again are among reported issues.

Below are some of highlighted issues being reported:

  • Voters initially turned away despite providing sufficient proof of residency;
  • Voter was challenged by poll worker because she did not provide a photo ID; however, when the voter threatened to record the conversation, the poll worker apologized and allowed her to vote;
  • Voter received a letter in the mail falsely stating that her polling location had changed because of an event;
  • Voter reported being turned away and witnessing others turned away despite providing sufficient proof of residency;
  • Voters reported being challenged repeatedly by the same poll worker, but having no problems with a different poll worker;
  • Voter received a voicemail from an unidentified voicemail falsely stating that if you voted in a recall primary you don't need to vote in the recall election);
  • Voter reported individuals wearing "Vote!" teachers providing incorrect and misleading information to voters about the location of their polling location. They suspected that these individuals were attempting to dissuade voters by frustrating and misleading them;
  • A voter reported that he and his wife encountered people inside the polling place (not officials) yelling at him “you better not vote for Scott Walker,” and another individual asking to see their ballots and, when they refused, accusing them of being Republicans;
  • Poll workers were making mistakes by marking the wrong names on the voter roll, and not monitoring the polling boxes;
  • Leading up to the elections Milwaukee County buses had false information about photo ID laws, dissuading voters because of their lack of ID.

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