Party switching – A bill sent to Gov. Sam Brownback would prevent Kansans from switching political parties from June 1 until after the August primary. This, of course, is intended to stop Democrats from crossing over to support moderate Republicans, who might pose an electoral threat to some of the conservative Republicans now in charge. It’s a bad sign that Kansas lawmakers would devote so much attention to a law that may stifle turnout, but have made no move to fix a previous law that has thrown the voting status of about 15,000 Kansans into limbo.
This partisan, self-serving bill is another example of the high-handedness of the majority Republicans in the Legislature. They can do this, so they will, regardless of the impact on voters’ rights. This bill deepens the partisan divide that keeps government from doing the people’s work. It discourages moderate Republicans from running for office and leaves their party in the hands of a coalition of right-wing conservatives and single-issue extremists.
Two bills – one to make local elections partisan and the other to limit re-registration – taken separately can cause heartburn. But taken together, along with other “reforms,” and the strategy becomes clear. Get power, and then keep it.