Kobach pursuing forgery charges against man who gathered signatures for No Labels political party in Kansas

photo by: John Hanna/AP File

Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach answers questions from reporters during a news conference outside his office on May 1, 2023, in Topeka.

TOPEKA — Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach says a second person was arrested for allegedly forging signatures on petitions relied upon by No Labels Kansas to gain official status as a political party in January.

Jamie Johnson, 47, of Dade City, Florida, was tracked down in Nebraska and taken into custody on suspicion of 18 counts of election forgery and one count of election perjury. She is awaiting extradition from Nebraska to Johnson County District Court.

In February, George Andrews, also of Dade City, Florida, was arrested on suspicion of 28 counts of election forgery and two counts of election perjury in a scheme to fraudulently deliver signatures of registered voters on petitions that are required by Kansas law to certify a political party.

“The people of Kansas deserve the most secure elections possible,” said Kobach, who served as the state’s chief elections officer before being elected attorney general. “I am determined to prosecute election fraud to the fullest extent of the law. It doesn’t matter how far you run. We will drag you back to Kansas and prosecute you.”

Secretary of State Scott Schwab said his office was committed to following any evidence of potential political crimes. On Monday, Schwab said he was confident county clerks would ensure that voting in the primary and general elections in 2024 was fair and accurate.

“Kansas has strong laws to ensure the integrity of our elections, and this case demonstrates that the process works,” Schwab said.

Schwab’s office, which has no independent prosecutorial authority, reviewed information regarding the No Labels Kansas petition drive. Evidence of alleged criminal violations was forwarded by the secretary of state to the attorney general. Law enforcement agencies in Kansas and Nebraska have been involved in tracking down the suspects.

In January, the No Labels Party was formally recognized by the Kansas secretary of state’s office after party organizers collected signatures of qualified voters equal to 2% of the total votes cast in the gubernatorial general election in November 2022. That granted the minor party an opportunity to place nominees on the November ballot in the 2024 election cycle.

Signatures on party petitions in Kansas must be validated by county election clerks who submit results of the county-by-county name surveys to Schwab’s office.

Former Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, director of ballot integrity for No Labels, told WIBW television in January that some of the people gathering signatures have said “it’s the easiest signature they’ve ever gotten” due to enthusiasm for third-party alternatives.

“I’m on these calls with them,” Nixon said. “They’re explaining to me everybody is saying to them, ‘Thanks, why weren’t you here before?”

In addition to the state’s traditional Republican and Democratic parties, Kansas has three minor parties: Libertarian, No Labels Kansas and United Kansas.

— Tim Carpenter is a reporter with the Kansas Reflector, a Topeka-based news service that covers state government.

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