The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Fixing problems that do not exist

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  • The Kansas Legislature continues to try and fix problems that do not exist — especially when it comes to elections in the state.
    The first bill to surface this year to fix a nonexistent problem would move local, non-partisan elections to the fall in even numbered years.
    The latest attempted "fix" received final approval in the Senate this week. Brought forth by the state GOP, the bill makes it harder to switch parties prior to a primary election. The bill now heads to Gov. Brownback's desk since it was approved by the house last year. He has yet to announce if he will sign the bill.
    The measure prohibits switching parties between the current June 1 candidate-filing deadline and the certification of August primary results.
    Current law says voters registered with a party can switch to another party up until two weeks before the primary. The law allows unaffiliated voters to choose a party at the polls, and the bill wouldn't change that.
    All eight Democrats in the Senate voted against the measure, and they were joined by the chamber's four remaining moderate Republicans — Jeff Longbine of Emporia, Carolyn McGinn of Sedgwick, Vicki Schmidt of Topeka and Kay Wolf of Prairie Village.
    They should. When asked for evidence of "stolen" elections as the result of party switching, none could be given during debate of the bill.
    During the debate, senators said allowing party switching close to a primary would permit Democrats and their allies to swell the vote totals for the weakest GOP candidate, possibly giving a Democratic nominee a better chance in the November general election. Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a GOP conservative, who said it would hinder "tactical or mischievous" party switching.
    That chance they refer to is often from none to slim. This is a very Republican state. Not to mention in some parts of GOP-leaning Kansas, the only candidates for some offices are Republicans. The primary determines the winner — this bill would carve out those who want to actually have a vote, but are not registered in the party.
    Further, only the voter changing registration knows their motivation for doing so.
    The two bills — one to make local elections partisan and the other to limit reregistration — taken separately can cause heartburn. But taken together, along with other "reforms," and the strategy becomes clear. Get power, and then keep it.
    Sen. Julia Lynn, a conservative Olathe Republican, said it best when speaking to the Associated Press — though she said it in support of the party switching bill.
    "Stealing elections and manipulating elections is not what the democratic process is all about."
    We agree. We wonder why she and others continue to manipulate elections – both state and local.
    Page 2 of 2 - — Kansan Editorial Board
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