As Kansas primary voters demonstrate whether they share the governor’s vision for the Legislature, they will test the new voter-ID law and election officials’ ability to sort through the historic court-ordered reshuffling of districts, precincts and voters.
Would-be voters should not leave home without the proper photo ID. And once at the polls, they should take care to ensure they have received the proper ballot, and that their voting machine has recorded their choices accurately.
Judging from news reports and anecdotes related to advance voting, voters have reason to be wary.
A member of The Eagle editorial board tried to vote in advance Saturday, only to find computers down. An Eagle letter writer described a machine recording votes incorrectly at another site last week.
One voter in west Wichita reported that his neighbor, during another time when the computers were down, had voted in the wrong state Senate primary.
An advance voter in Harvey County was given the wrong paper ballot by a poll worker, and incorrectly told that one candidate was a Democrat.
And how remarkable that when Reno County District Court Judge Richard Rome tried to vote in advance at the courthouse – a building in which his portrait is displayed – he was denied a ballot until he fetched his driver’s license from his car.
Another concern about the voter-ID law is how many provisional ballots it could generate, and how few of those could end up being counted.
When nearly 27,000 Wichitans voted in the Feb. 28 special election on a tax incentive for the Ambassador Hotel, 28 voters lacked the required photo ID and filed provisional ballots as a result. Then 17 of the 28 didn’t bother to follow up by mail or in person at the election office, no doubt concluding they needn’t bother because the election was over.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach has said that 68,000 voters have participated in various elections around the state this year, and that just 84 voters failed to present a photo ID and therefore were allowed to cast provisional ballots.
But “even 84 voters not allowed to vote is 84 too many,” noted Wendy R. Weiser of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.
Barry Grissom, the U.S. attorney for Kansas, recently contrasted such cases of rejected ballots with the two cases of voter abuses forwarded to his office in the past two years, concluding: “It seems to me the medicine is killing the patient.”
Here’s hoping that the motivation to vote is greater than the challenge involved in doing so. With primary turnout predicted to be just 18 percent, Kansas clearly needs many more citizens to be engaged in the public life of their communities and state.
For the editorial board, Rhonda Holman
To read Eagle editorial board candidate endorsements, go to Kansas.com/opinion.