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Archive for Monday, March 10, 2014

Editorial: Voting rights

A bill that limits party-switching in Kansas also could limit voters’ right to support their chosen candidates.

March 10, 2014

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A bill that would create new limits on when Kansas voters could change their party affiliations is another example of state legislators trying to correct a problem that probably doesn’t exist or at least not to an extent that justifies legislative action.

In this case, that “fix” also could limit Kansas voters’ ability to cast their ballots for their preferred candidates.

The bill that has passed the Senate Ethics and Election Committee last week would bar Kansas voters from changing their party affiliation from June 1 (the filing deadline for candidates) to Sept. 1 (about a month after the August primary elections). The goal of the bill, according to Kansas Republican Party officials, is to prevent voters from switching parties in order to skew the opposing party’s primary. The officials say they have no proof of such switches, but they have a feeling some Democratic voters are switching parties to vote for the Republican candidate they believe is less likely to win against the Democratic opponent.

That might be a little underhanded, but it’s far from the most egregious political tactic employed in most races. And what if the voter actually is switching parties to vote for the candidate he or she prefers?

One of the arguments presented during committee testimony is that primary elections belong to the political party. That’s not really true. Political conventions that choose party nominees belong to the party, but state primaries belong to all state taxpayers.

Secretary of State Kris Kobach also supported the bill, saying it would reduce the administrative burden on county election officers who must record registration changes. That’s pretty ironic coming from the man who is trying to force county election officers to conduct a two-tiered election for people who have registered for federal elections and those registered for state elections. It’s also possible that the workload for county officials actually would increase under the bill because people would switch their registration to “unaffiliated” before the June 1 deadline to keep their options open in the primary. Under the new bill unaffiliated voters still would be able to declare a party at the polls for a primary.

The big question here is whether voters who feel strongly about a candidate from either party should be able to vote for that candidate even in the primary. If a Democrat looks over the field of both Democratic and Republican candidates and finds his or her preferred candidate is a Republican, shouldn’t that voter have an opportunity to help make sure that candidate advances to the general election by winning the Republican primary? The same principle applies in reverse, of course, but contested Democratic primary are far more rare in Kansas.

Party-switching for political purpose may occur to some extent now, but efforts to ban that practice serve an equally political motive that also could infringe on the right of Kansas voters to support their chosen candidates.

Comments

Ron Holzwarth 9 months, 3 weeks ago

"The officials say they have no proof of such switches, but they have a feeling,,,"

Didn't President Bush invade Iraq on a similar pretext? That is, he ordered the Untied States to invade a sovereign country on the other side of the earth because he had "a feeling" that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

Upon further examination, it turned out that was not the case. But the possibility exists that Saddam Hussein had been misled by his cronies, and actually believed that he did possess them. But, since he has now been conveniently executed, the truth may never be known.

While I don't believe that Saddam Hussein was a worthy ruler, the exact same thing can be said of many other rulers in the world today. And so it seems to me that the politicians that run the United States today don't seem to have the interests of the citizens in mind.

Except for certain favorite ones, of course.

Michael LoBurgio 9 months, 3 weeks ago

If republican ideas are so wonderful for Kansans, why do they make it so hard to vote?

Melinda Henderson 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Since a bill does not become law until it's published in the statute book, and that's not published until July 1st, I wonder if this bill is passed, if it would affect the 2014 election cycle. Beings as this bill would ban changing party affiliation after June 1st.

Steve King 9 months, 3 weeks ago

The joke is on them. We switched long ago so we could vote in their primary. Thousands of us. Good old Facebook. Every ultra rightwing GOP/Alec/Koch connected goofball is tagged for failure. Can't wait for November. You know they're worried. That TeaParty nonsense has been recognized as a ploy and subversive. Less than 25% support left. And now we outnumber them.

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