Major Kansas Political Parties Not Worried About Deadline To Switch

May 26, 2016

Kansas party officials say they're more worried about registering unaffiliated voters than party members switching.
Credit DonkeyHotey / Flickr - CC

June 1 is the last day party-affiliated voters can change their registration in Kansas before the August 2 primary.

But the Executive Director of the Kansas Democratic Party, Kerry Gooch, says he’s more focused on registering unaffiliated voters.

“I think Democrats should vote for Democrats in the primary, and I think Republicans should vote for Republicans in the primary,” Gooch says.

Clay Barker, executive director of the Kansas Republicans, expressed similar sentiments about party-switching in an email.

“Both parties discourage the practice,” Barker wrote. “FDR condemned party flipping as unethical, and the U.S. Supreme Court said political parties have an absolute right to control who votes in their primary.”

Barker added that the more interesting number would not be how many unaffiliated voters do end up registering with a party by the later July 12 cutoff.

Still party switchers could make a difference in a handful of key races, including Senate District 34, where Majority Leader Terry Bruce faces a primary challenger but so far no Democratic opponent. Ed Berger, the former president of Hutchinson Community college, has been passing out voter cards at campaign events so Democrats who want to cross the aisle and vote for him can re-register as Republicans.

Gooch says he doesn’t think that’s happening in many places but acknowledged that getting more Democrats to run is crucial.

“One of the story that’s been told around the state is most elections happen in the Republican primary,” Gooch says. “We want to show people that’s not true.”

Gooch says even if the Democrats he recruits don’t win this election cycle, having them out on the campaign trail spreading the party message will build support for the future.

Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.