New Kansas law on polling places likely won’t be ready this year

photo by: Associated Press

Ruth Meier, from Silver Lake, Kan, votes at the Prairie Home Cemetery building, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Topeka, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

TOPEKA — A new law that would allow Kansans to vote at polling stations that are most convenient to them likely will not be ready for this year’s elections, Secretary of State Scott Schwab said.

Schwab told the state Senate’s election committee Tuesday that drafting rules for implementing the law is difficult, in part because of technical issues in the state’s 105 counties, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

The program, which was part of a voting reform bill signed last year by Gov. Laura Kelly, won’t be finalized until 2021, Schwab said.

“They are not going to be ready by this year simply because we don’t want to screw up,” he said. “If we rushed it through for this year, I promise you there would be a lot of mistakes.”

Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, a Democrat from Wichita, said voters in Sedgwick County expected to be able to vote this year at polling places of their choice rather than a site assigned by election officials. She recommended the secretary of state’s office conduct a statewide public service campaign to notify potential voters about the delay.

Schwab urged lawmakers not to aggressively change Kansas election laws this year in response to concerns about potential interference in the voting process.

“If you change one thing in a law, it creates a lot of things on our end to make sure clerks are trained appropriately,” he said. “When you start getting those moving pieces in an election year, it can create a lot of voter confusion.”

The secretary of state’s office will use millions of dollars of federal funding to prevent hacking of poll books used in Kansas to monitor individuals who cast votes. His office also plans to hire an employee to work as an election security commissioner. In the future, Schwab said, federal grants could be used to help counties update their election machines.


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