Archive for Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Kobach had duty to publicize new voting schedule; it appears that he didn’t

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach presides over Kansas' Electoral College vote for the President of the United States in the Senate chambers of the Kansas Statehouse on Monday, Dec. 19, 2016 in Topeka, Kan.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach presides over Kansas' Electoral College vote for the President of the United States in the Senate chambers of the Kansas Statehouse on Monday, Dec. 19, 2016 in Topeka, Kan.

August 1, 2017


— Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach does not appear to have conducted any public information campaign, as required by law, to publicize the fact that the state recently shifted the election cycle for municipal elections from the spring to the fall of odd-numbered years.

Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew cited that as one possible explanation for why voter turnout in the county was lower than expected on Tuesday, when the first municipal elections took place in Kansas under the new cycle.

“We tried to get what word out that we could,” he said during a phone interview Tuesday. “I think there was an anticipation that there would be kind of a statewide push getting information out. We’ll kind of evaluate it for us, how we increase that push locally.”

In 2015, Kansas lawmakers narrowly passed a bill moving city and school board elections to a fall cycle for odd-numbered years so they would mirror the state and federal elections held in even-numbered years, with primaries on the first Tuesday in August and general elections in early November

Supporters of that bill hoped it would increase voter turnout, which is often substantially smaller in municipal races than in state and federal elections. The idea was to get people used to the fact that there are always elections in August and November, regardless of what year it is.

Included in that new law, however, was language specifically directing the secretary of state’s office to develop a public information program “to inform the public generally of changes made as a result of moving spring elections to fall elections.”

“Such public information program shall include, at a minimum, the explanation of which public office elections are being transferred from spring to fall elections,” the new statute reads. “The program shall include the use of advertisements and public service announcements as well as posting of information on the opening pages of the official internet websites of the secretary of state and county election officers.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, there was no information on the opening page of the secretary of state's website explaining the change in election cycle, and no record could be found of any advertising or public service announcements about the change that were sponsored by the secretary of state’s office.

Kobach spokeswoman Samantha Poetter said in an email late Tuesday that there is information on an internal page of the Secretary of State’s website that can be accessed through the “Upcoming elections” tab. She also said Kobach put out information through social media as soon as advance voting began. But she could not point to any advertising or public service announcements sponsored by the Secretary of State’s office.

At the time the 2015 bill was passed, Shew served as president of the Kansas County Clerks and Election Officials Association, which opposed the initial draft of the bill calling for municipal elections to be held in the fall of even-numbered years and to be made partisan.

But the group accepted the final draft of the bill, which moved the races to the fall cycle of odd-numbered years and left them as nonpartisan.

A survey of county election officials on Tuesday showed there was not much evidence to suggest the change had any impact on voter turnout.

Shew said late Tuesday afternoon that turnout in Douglas County appeared to be much lower than it was in 2015, when the primary was held in March, and might be on par with the 2013 elections, when the February primary was marked by a blizzard.

Wyandotte County Election Commissioner Bruce Newby said turnout appeared to be down in that jurisdiction as well, although he said it had nothing to do with the lack of a public information campaign.

Newby said his office sent out letters about a month and a half before the election to every registered voter in the county announcing the change and explaining their options for advance voting or voting in person. His office then followed up with post cards to all voters about two weeks before the election.

In Johnson County, Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker said turnout appeared to be higher than in recent elections and was on pace late Tuesday afternoon to break the county’s record for a municipal primary. But he attributed that to a large public information campaign that his office funded, as well as the addition of two new advance voting locations and a hotly contested race for a Shawnee Mission school board seat.

Laura Bianbo, office manager in the Sedgwick County Election Commissioner’s office, said turnout there appeared to be higher Tuesday than the last comparable primary in 2013, when there were city commission races but no mayoral race.

University of Kansas political science professor Patrick Miller said he believes the competitive nature of individual races has much more to do with turnout than the timing of the elections.

“I don’t want to say that the timing is an unimportant factor,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday. “But I think that people who are looking for the timing of the election to have a gigantic impact on turnout rates one way or the other are going to be severely disappointed, on average, in most states.”

Miller, along with the county election officials, said the real test of how much impact the change in timing has on voter participation will come in the general elections Nov. 7.


Michael Kort 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Kobach is too busy in Washington to do his Kansas job of SOS .

Koback should either resign or be removed by the legislature .

Why is the state paying him to be absent and disengaged .

What an ongoing mess !

Mike Riner 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I think Kris Kobach has made it abundantly clear that he has no respect for the law. He has completely ignored building codes in Douglas County, disregarded orders from a Judge or two.....he just doesn't give a damn! So why isn't this POS (yes, it's POS, not SOS) in jail?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I don't think he cares about increasing voter participation. He needs to be fired. Let Trump hire him full time and get him out of Kansas. Trump has already hired a bunch of incompetent people. Kobach will fit in nicely.

Richard Heckler 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Have you been purged from the voting rolls or not? This can be fixed however it takes time. Check your status frequently.

Voters ORGANIZING A VOTING DAY PACKET might be a preventive measure which could include:

--- a birth certificate

--- a drivers license or state ID card

--- proof of voter registration etc etc etc.

--- Military Discharge Papers

--- Keep this packet close to protect your right to vote

Do it today in case it is discovered one or more of the above cannot be found. None of these are necessarily difficult to replace. But will take time.

Some believe voter suppression is effective :

Devin Wilson 7 months, 2 weeks ago

This part is hilarious "Kobach put out information through social media as soon as advance voting began" Except that he illegally blocks Kansans on social media.

Ralph Reed 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Who really believes that KKK would do anything at all to facilitate voting?




Sam Crow 7 months, 2 weeks ago

This article demonstrates that Hancock doesn’t have enough to do in Topeka, so he manufactures a problem to dig at Kobach.

There has always been apathy at local elections.

Hancock tries to blame the low turnout in Douglas County on Kobach, when the rest of the article proves him wrong.

People across the state knew there was an election, if they bothered to look around. Newspaper articles, like in the LJW, and the typical overabundance of campaign signs alone would make one aware of an election, even those disengaged from the process. An announcement on the web site of the SOS is meaningless, unless one accesses the site.

Hancock references Johnson County. The turnout there was not due to a “large public information campaign”. As was noted, the Shawnee Mission school district had a high profile election in which a well-known incumbent was not reelected. People there had gone door to door to get others informed. That is the way democracy is supposed to work.

The people that cared enough to vote, did. When will liberals come to the realization that some people just don’t have a desire to be involved?

Greg Cooper 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Sam, the issue is not voter apathy, regardless of how you spin it. The issue is that K was told to do something and he did not. The issue is that K deems himself above the law, not only in this case but others. The issue is that K has no respect for the rule of law, law he either agrees or disagrees with. The issue is that K lies, procrastinates, does personal business on state time, and still thinks he can do what he wants when he wants, and doesn't give a damn about other people's thoughts.

It really doesn't matter that voters don't turn out in droves: what matters is that the legislature enacted a statute in an attempt to address voter turnout and he ignored the law. Now, justify that.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 months, 2 weeks ago

How do you like paying someone's salary, so doesn't do their job, Sam? Your tax dollars making Kris able to work for anyone, but Kansas. I thought you conservatives were fiscally responsible /double sarcasm/.

Sam Crow 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I wasn't aware state elected officials punched a time clock like a factory worker.

I didn't have a problem with Kathy Sibelius spending most of 2008 traveling nationwide campaigning for Obama either. Was she doing her job as governor while schlepping his talking points in her frequent appearances on network news and at campaign appearances ?

You are quite the hypocrite.

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