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Editorial Roundup: Kansas


Kansas City Star. March 18, 2024.

Editorial: Kansas Republicans’ attack on mail-in voting is the real election fraud

Vote like a Republican, or don’t vote at all.

That’s the message emanating from our state Legislature and the office of our top election official, Secretary of State Scott Schwab.

More about Schwab later, but first, the Legislature.

The latest voting fraud proposed in Kansas is Senate Bill 366, a measure designed to suppress mail voting to get rid of pesky Democrats and independents who, despite years of inundation with GOP propaganda, still insist on voting by mail for non-Republican candidates.

The bill would make it illegal for county election officials to send voters an application to get a mail ballot, unless the voter contacts the election office first to request an application.

Yes, what S.B. 366 would do is make voters apply to get an application. It’s redundant and ridiculous.

Let’s be crystal clear. We are not talking about the election officers mailing out ballots. We are talking about them mailing out the application to request a ballot.


The only reason S.B. 366 even exists is because Democratic and independent voters tend to use mail ballots more than Republicans, who tend to prefer voting in person at a polling place.

The proponents of the bill admit it.

In the Kansas Senate’s hearing on S.B. 366, we heard it straight from the mouth of Kim Gish. She’s a “ballot chaser” for Sedgwick County Republicans.

What that means is that she buys the list of names and addresses of voters who have requested mail ballots from the election office. Then, she goes to their doors “to let them know the reason why they would need to vote for our candidate.”

While “chasing ballots” in the November election for Wichita school board, she was shocked and horrified to find she was knocking on a lot more Democratic and unaffiliated doors than Republican ones.

“Once I had realized that … it was so saturated versus the Republicans that were getting advance ballots, I would be asking people at the door, if they were a registered Democrat, ‘How did you receive these advanced ballots, did you call it in?’” she testified. “They said ‘No, we just got them in the mail.’”

Once more, with emphasis, for those in the back:


The factuality here is that no county in Kansas mails ballots to voters in primary and general elections without a written request on an official form with identity verification.

Other conferees supporting S.B. 366 included a couple of losers in the last Prairie Village City Council race. Their main concern seemed to be that they think they’d have won if Johnson County Election Commissioner Fred Sherman hadn’t sent mail-ballot applications to all the county’s voters.

There was Charlotte O’Hara, formerly an incoherent Kansas state representative (2011-2013) and now an incoherent Johnson County commissioner — although she testified to the Senate committee as an incoherent “private citizen.”

She started out complaining about fog and potholes and moved on to this non sequitur: “I also want to just briefly tell you that religious Easter eggs are not allowed at the White House Easter egg hunt this coming year.” (That one’s a bizarre internet fiction, based on a single boilerplate guideline to an obscure National Guard kids’ artwork contest. The event is still called the White House Easter Egg Roll — emphasis on Easter, for crying out loud.)

Read more at: When she got on point, the meat of O’Hara’s testimony was that it cost Johnson County 31.4 cents each to send mail-ballot applications to the county’s voters (which is actually a bargain). That, and she’s angry at her local post office, because one of her tenants’ rent checks was postmarked Jan. 5 and she didn’t get it until the 16th.

It apparently didn’t occur to her that if it was never mailed, she’d have never gotten it at all, which is what S.B. 366 aspires to do with ballot applications.

Thanks for coming, Charlotte. Here’s your participation trophy.


S.B. 366 hasn’t passed the Senate, although it’s being handled by Federal and State Affairs, a “blessed” committee that can move legislation after the regular deadlines.

On Thursday, the House Elections Committee held an “informational” hearing on the bill.

This is exactly the kind of legislation that lawmakers love to sneak into other bills and pass in the dead of night on the last day of the session.

If they do, it will be up to Gov. Laura Kelly to veto it. In fact, she should veto the bill, put it through the shredder, burn the pieces and bury the ashes at the bottom of an abandoned oil well.

It’s that toxic to democracy.

Which circles us back to our state’s chief election official, Secretary Schwab.

He’s already ordered election commissioners not to do any all-voters mailing of ballot applications for future elections in Kansas’ four largest counties — Johnson, Sedgwick, Shawnee and Wyandotte.

Those four counties represent about 1.5 million Kansans — slightly more than half the population of the state.

They’re also the counties where Democrats have been gaining ground in recent state elections, and four of the eight counties that Kelly won in the 2022 governor’s race.

Schwab gets to appoint those four counties’ election commissioners, and they have to follow his directions. He doesn’t have as much control over the other 101 counties, where elections are handled by elected county clerks.

That’s according to Schwab’s office lawyer, Clay Barker, who’s also a former executive director of the Kansas Republican Party.

Barker and other Schwab aides testified to the House and Senate committees that the secretary is “neutral” on S.B. 366.

That’s maddeningly disingenuous when Schwab has already implemented it himself in the counties where it matters most.

Schwab’s following the lead of Sedgwick County, where the Republican-controlled County Commission has been hard at work to suppress mail voting since 2022.

From 2008 until then, every county voter got an application to request a mail ballot for state and national elections, to relieve pressure on Election Day polling sites.

That was fine and dandy up until 2020, when Democrat Sarah Lopez edged out Republican incumbent County Commissioner Michael O’Donnell. At the time, O’Donnell was on the cusp of being removed from office for political corruption, and had announced that he wouldn’t serve a second term if reelected.

Lopez actually trailed O’Donnell on election night, but the final count of mail ballots gave her a narrow victory.

That rattled the Republicans, who’d had enough of O’Donnell, but wanted him to win so a tiny cadre of Republican precinct captains could pick his replacement.

Two years later, in a sneaky and self-serving move worthy of O’Donnell himself, the County Commission quietly took the money for mailing ballot applications out of the budget while no one was looking.

In 2022, mail voting dropped by 20,000 votes, from 54,000 to 34,000.


As best we can, we’ve countered that action by printing the application for mail ballots in our newspaper and posting it on our website.

You’ll see it packaged with this editorial, and several more times between now and the August and November elections.

Cut them out, print them out, fill them out, send them in to your local election office. Make copies for your family and friends — and yourself.

This election cycle, you’ll need to send in two copies of the form, one for the Aug. 6 primary and another one for the Nov. 5 general election.

Although you have to fill out the form twice, you can send both in the same envelope.

Do it in defense of our democracy, because most of your elected officials aren’t going to defend it for you.

They’d rather win by any means necessary.