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Opinion

Opinion

Editorial: Election integrity

Voting and vote-counting glitches in Wichita carry a cautionary message for the rest of the state.

November 12, 2012

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Voters in Wichita and the rest of Sedgwick County have a right to be upset with the handling of Tuesday’s general election.

The situation is a reminder that, amid all the talk of potential voter fraud, human error and the vulnerability of computerized voter systems may pose a far greater threat to the integrity of the American voting system.

Because of what the county’s election commissioner now admits was a case of “user error,” Sedgwick County was unable to report any election results until nearly 11 p.m. Tuesday and didn’t have full results until almost 2 a.m. Wednesday. Even more maddening is the fact that a similar situation delayed results after the August 2012 primary election, and officials apparently weren’t able to correct the situation before Tuesday’s vote. At least 64 county voters also reportedly received advance ballots for the wrong precincts in Tuesday’s election.

According to Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman, Tuesday’s delays were tied to malfunctioning voting machines at several sites and a problem with the way advance ballots were posted. She also said that staff cuts and the fact that her staff was relatively inexperienced also contributed to the problems.

Some long-time staff members left the office after the former election commissioner, Bill Gale, stepped down from that office in November. The Kansas secretary of state appoints election commissioners in the state’s four largest counties, so Kris Kobach appointed Lehman, who had been recommended by Gale.

A number of officials and the Wichita Eagle are tired of the election excuses and are calling for Lehman to be replaced. They point out that the election commissioner’s job will become even more complicated when new laws take effect on Jan. 1 requiring first-time Kansas voters to show proof of citizenship when they register.

According to a representative of his office, Kobach isn’t considering replacing Lehman but is planning to investigate the balloting problems and make sure they are resolved before spring city and school board elections in Wichita.

Since taking office two years ago, Kobach has frequently touted the need to protect the integrity of elections by instituting voter ID and proof-of-citizenship requirements. The situation in Wichita also shows that running efficient and professional elections that allow voters to cast their ballots and receive voting results in a timely manner also is a key part of giving officials and voters confidence in the accuracy and validity of the election system.

Comments

Cait McKnelly 1 year, 10 months ago

If anyone thinks that vote suppression isn't a very real thing, consider this; over a half million votes, mainly from Latino voters, still have to be counted in Maricopa County, AZ (home of Joe Arpaio). The problem is so bad that voters rights groups are screaming for the DOJ to get involved.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/10/us/politics/arizona-races-still-hang-in-the-balance-over-uncounted-votes.html
Kobach is sooooooo worried about voter fraud, a non-existent problem, and totally unconcerned about election tampering, a very real one.

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Cait McKnelly 1 year, 10 months ago

It seems people don't care about election integrity. It must appear pretty pointless when you live in a one party dictatorship that holds elections for "show".

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verity 1 year, 10 months ago

Obviously the Rs don't think they can win unless they cheat. Now they're having trouble winning even with cheating.

And how much money did Rove spend and what did he get for it? Chuckle!

Chickens starting to come home to roost.

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Orwell 1 year, 10 months ago

Kobach couldn't stick around to help his appointee straighten out her only responsibility because he was already running late for the Romney victory party at Cedar Crest.

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somebodynew 1 year, 10 months ago

Larry - sometimes you have to practice in places where it is less likely to be noticed.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 10 months ago

Under the heading of "election integrity", might the withholding of information that voters might use to make informed decisions be defined as a violation of that integrity?

When Republican Congressman Yoder skinny dipped into the Sea of Galilee, I was very vocal that is was improper that that information was withheld until after the primary election. There is a current scandal brewing in Washington, one where it seems information was known prior to this election but not released until after. I'm troubled this information is only being released now, after the election. Even the President of the United States wasn't told of the brewing scandal. Perhaps Obama would have covered up the facts. Maybe he would have acted decisively and fired people on the spot. Either way, we were entitled to know.

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