A bill to ensure that military and other absentee voters can participate in a special election to replace U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo was signed by Gov. Sam Brownback on Wednesday.
HB 2017, the first bill signed this session, extends the length of time for a special election in an effort to ensure that absentee ballots can be mailed overseas to military personnel and other absentee voters.
The new law will give the state 75 to 90 days to hold a special election from when the governor calls for one. The previous law required that the election take place between 45 and 60 days from the governor’s proclamation. Federal law requires that overseas ballots be mailed out 45 days before an election.
Brownback praised the Legislature for passing the bill a little more than one week into the legislative session.
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Kansas has not held a special election to replace a congressman since 1950. Pompeo, R-Wichita, has been tapped by President-elect Donald Trump to serve as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. His seat in the 4th Congressional District will need to be filled if he is confirmed by the Senate.
The new law will also make it easier for independent candidates to run, lowering the required number of signatures from 17,000 to 3,000. Rep. Keith Esau, R-Olathe, said the state could have faced a ballot access lawsuit without that change.