Kobach’s absence ires Dems dealing with election software malfunctions

11/07/2012 8:02 AM

02/20/2013 6:53 AM

— Secretary of State Kris Kobach left his office to take his young daughter home around 10 p.m. Wednesday, infuriating Democrats who said he should be in the office to deal with problems causing delays in vote returns in Sedgwick County.

Democratic Party Chairwoman Joan Wagnon and the party’s executive director, Jason Perkey, came to Kobach’s office late Tuesday evening to ask questions about the cause of the delay in Sedgwick County, where the party hoped to perhaps win one or two senate seats.

"It’s once a year when he has to monitor elections and he’s the chief elections officer that should be sitting here making sure issues like this are taken care of," Perkey said.

Kobach remained in communication with elections officials by phone after leaving.

In an interview at about 1:10 a.m. Kobach said he has been in contact with election officials and is confident that Sedgwick County and the ES&S that provided the malfunctioning software would resolve the problem.

“It is not as if I can physically fix the software for them,” he said. “I am not sure what they personally expect me to do.”

Wagnon said she understands that he needed to take his daughter home, but she said it is the norm for the secretary of state to stay in the office until results have come in.

Wagnon also expressed frustration with the delays in Sedgwick County because the county experienced the same problems during the primary. Those should have been resolved, she said.

"I think they have a novice election commissioner down there who doesn’t have a very well-running office is what it sounds like," Wagnon said.

Earlier in the evening, Kobach said he had discussed the delays with Sedgwick County election commissioner Tabitha Lehman after the primary. He said Tuesday’s software problem was a separate issue, and he remained confident that the glitches wouldn’t impact the integrity of the vote.

"It’s just frustrating when we can’t get the numbers as soon as we want them," he said.

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