A decision made last week by the Kansas State Objections Board has stirred even more controversy over the makeup of the board. As the final decision-makers on who we, the Kansas electorate, get to vote for or against in our primary and general elections, it's imperative objections raised are given fair and meaningful consideration by an impartial body.
It’s time to adopt a State Objections Board that’s impartial to election outcomes and singularly focused on honoring the Constitution’s framework. No party should have singular power in making decisions about the names on a ballot.
This was evidenced again last week, when the partisan objections board, comprised of designees from the Republican-held secretary of state, lieutenant governor and attorney general’s offices, voted to deny all but one of the 19 objections presented by attorney Pedro Irigonegaray about the validity of signatures submitted by an independent candidate for governor.
Among the issues raised regarding the signatures was the fact that one petition circulator who recorded more than 1,000 signatures over seven days would have had to spend 11 hours a day each day getting a signature once every 4.5 minutes.
Because the candidate hired an out-of-state company to collect the signatures of registered Kansas voters, five out-of-state residents gathered signatures for the petition drive. According to testimony provided at the hearing, petitions were signed by individuals residing at a hotel in Sioux Falls, S.D., a homeless shelter in Minnesota and a resort in Florida, and their residency could not be verified. Will Lawrence, who initiated the objection, told the board that he’d called to confirm signature gatherers lived at the addresses provided but was not able to confirm by people at each site that it was the legal dwelling of the petition carrier.
When it comes to petition drives that place Kansans on the ballot, it should be required that only qualified members of the electorate are eligible to solicit signatures.
When the board’s makeup includes the campaign donor of one of the candidates for governor, it’s no surprise that the objections board ruled to overlook the glaring inconsistencies of the filed petitions.
Allowing partisan politicians to determine the eligibility of candidates on the ballot undermines the trust Kansans have in their election system. A better system should be adopted that removes even the smallest appearance of partisanship.
— The Topeka Capital-Journal