Kansas voters have already begun to cast their ballots for more than just the presidential race.
The Kansas election includes not only state and national races but a change to the state Constitution and the state supreme court as well.
Crawford County Clerk Don Pyle said roughly one-tenth of the approximately 24,000 registered voters have cast ballots so far — either by mail or in-person early voting. Voters will decide the fate of the five out of seven Kansas Supreme Court justices who are up for retention, as well as a constitutional amendment on hunting, fishing and trapping.
The constitutional amendment was drafted by Kansas State Rep. Adam Lusker (D-Frontenac), who is running unopposed. Lusker said the amendment would preserve current state laws enforced by the Kansas Department for Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.
“The clearest answer is it changes nothing we do today,” Lusker said. “But protects everything we want for tomorrow. It preserves.”
Lusker said the amendment would make it harder for future groups and lawmakers to change what’s on the books. It would require voters to pass another amendment to the constitution instead of lawmakers approving a statute which might threaten hunting rights.
Lusker, who is a hunter and fisherman, said he was inspired by similar legislation in other states while attending summits put on by the National Association of Sportsmen's Caucus.
The amendment is supported by the National Rifle Association. The Kansas State Rifle Association is in support of the constitutional change, but could not be reached for comment.
The amendment has opposition as well.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Humane Society of the U.S. and the Kansas Sierra Club all oppose the change.
Kansas Sierra Club Conservation Chair Elaine Giessel said regulations on hunting, fishing and trapping should be based on “science and expert opinion, not political interest groups.”
“I don’t think there is an eminent threat to hunting, fishing and trapping. There is no need for it. The (Constitution) is for everyone,” Giessel said. “This amendment is for a special interest group of people.”
During the 2016 legislative session, the constitutional amendment, known as House Concurrent Resolution 5008, passed the Kansas House of Representatives 117-7 and the Kansas Senate 36-0. The complete amendment can be found at bit.ly/2dWiCAM.
Voter registration status, a sample ballot and nearest voting center can be found at voteks.org. Early voting can be done at the county clerk’s office in the Girard courthouse weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. until Nov. 7. A driver’s license is needed.
— Michael Stavola is a staff writer at The Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MichaelStavola1.