On Thursday, the GOP nominee for Kansas secretary of state levied a charge that the state’s voter registration rolls have hundreds names of people that are deceased.

On Thursday, the GOP nominee for Kansas secretary of state levied a charge that the state’s voter registration rolls have hundreds names of people that are deceased.

Kris Kobach cited a report from Kansas City, Mo. television station KSHB-TV that stated there are registered voter names matching federal records of deaths.

Another report from an independent website listed six Kansas counties that have more registered voters than people listed 18 and older. One of those counties listed was Cherokee County. The five other counties were: Smith, Graham, Rawlins, Nemaha, and Hodgeman.

However, Cherokee County Clerk Crystal Gatewood said that the numbers in the independent report may be misleading.

The report uses estimated population figures from 2008 and 2010 from the U.S. Census Bureau and compares that to registered voters from Kansas counties in both of those years.

“An estimate really goes out the window and I have real numbers, not estimates,” Gatewood said. “Anyone can come up with an estimate, but I look at the real numbers.”

According to the report, in 2008 Cherokee County had 15,104 voters eligible to vote but had 15,294 actual registered voters. It was similar in 2010 with 15,992 eligible to vote and 16,515 actual voters registered.

Gatewood said that there are other factors that need to be looked at when examining voter registration rolls.

“There could be someone on the list who has not voted in 20 years and we can’t take them off,” Gatewood said. “We have to be contacted or have documentation that they need to be taken off.”

She said that someone may have lived and registered to vote in Cherokee County then moved to another state. If that other state does not send any notification of that person’s intent to vote in that state, she cannot take them off the registration rolls.

“I do not take names off because that person can still show up,” Gatewood said. “We’ve had people that have moved back that were gone for 10 years. They have to prove who they are and we can update their file. We can’t deny anyone the right to vote.

“I have people on the list that I know have moved, but I can’t take them off. By law, I have to protect that person’s right to vote.”

After the last day for voters to register for the Nov. 4 general election, county clerks are required to send their voter registration tallies to the secretary of state’s office. Gatewood said that Cherokee County had 16,648 names on that list — an increase of 46 from the list for the August primary election.

Gatewood said that the same notification process applies for those who are deceased.

“If someone dies, until I get official notification that the person is deceased,” Gatewood said. “Dead people don’t vote here. I’ve been on the watch and it has not happened here.”

Interestingly enough, one of the examples that Kobach gave was of a Wichita resident, Alfred K. Brewer, who was supposedly deceased according to Social Security records. However, Brewer still lives in Wichita and has been voting since 1964.

But, Kobach campaign manager Ben Davis said that current Secretary of State Chris Biggs — of whom Kobach is challenging in the general election — has not addressed the issue of possible voter fraud in Kansas.

“Chris Biggs has been in office for the last eight months and has done nothing to take those names off the rolls,” Davis said.

Matthew Clark can be reached at matthew.clark@morningsun.net or at 620-231-2600, Ext. 140