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Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

New voting laws adding to confusion, Douglas County election official says

March 24, 2014

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— Douglas County's chief election official, County Clerk Jamie Shew, says he wishes legislators who keep passing new voting laws would be around to deal with angry voters who are tripped up by the changes.

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"We'll get yelled at," over the newest proposal, Shew predicted. The bill says no one who is registered as a Republican, Democrat or Libertarian will be able to switch party affiliation between June 1, which is the deadline for candidates to file for office for the Aug. 5 Republican and Democratic primaries, and the end of August.

Current law says voters registered with a party can switch to another party up until two weeks before the primary.

Republicans, who are the majority party in Kansas, see this proposed restriction as a way to stop Democrats from switching parties to influence GOP primaries, whether to try to set up the weakest Republican candidate for the general election or to elect the Republican candidate most aligned with their interests when there is little or no Democratic opposition in the November general election.

"The primary election belongs to the political party, not to the general public," said Kansas Republican Party Chairman Kelly Arnold. "It's the mechanism whereby the party selects its candidates."

The legislation was proposed by the Kansas Republican Party, approved by only Republicans in the Legislature and now sits on the desk of Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, who is reviewing the bill.

Shew sees the proposal as another impediment to voting.

"This is part of our frustration," Shew said. "The state just continues to add complexity and confusion to elections."

He said the number of rules added to elections over the past several years "is mind boggling," and hinders elections.

In 2012, a law took effect requiring Kansans to have a photo ID when voting in person. Then in 2013, a law requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote took effect. Both laws are the subjects of lawsuits.

Shew said he didn't think there was much party switching going on in Douglas County.

And Shew disagreed with Arnold's contention that the primaries should protect the political parties' processes.

"If this is true, should we turn the selection process over to the parties and remove the counties from running these elections? It would save our county about $130,000 to not run the August election," he said.

Comments

Larry Sturm 9 months ago

As for the prof of citizenship I thought that in America that you were innocent until proven guilty they should have to prove that I am not citizen. Hundreds of thousands of dollars going into out of state lawyers to defend frivolous laws.

Melinda Henderson 9 months ago

"If this is true, should we turn the selection process over to the parties and remove the counties from running these elections? It would save our county about $130,000 to not run the August election," he said.

YIKES, Jamie. Don't be giving them any ideas! ;-)

Cille King 9 months ago

Let's not go further partisan. Let everyone, no matter which party or no party, vote for their preferred candidate. The two who receive the most votes (no matter the party) go on the general election ballot. This would give everyone a say in the primary, and a vote for their favorite. There wouldn't be a need to try distort the results in the primary as the Republicans fear.

Frank McGuinness 9 months ago

What are the rules for those who are unaffiliated?

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