elections

They came north from McPherson and south from Cloud County. East from Hays and west from Topeka.  

From the far-off reaches of Kansas's 1st Congressional District, representatives of the state’s agriculture interests met in a small storefront in Salina on a recent July morning, making history.

“You drove all this way,” says Roger Marshall, “you have to get your photo taken!”

PHILADELPHIA – In some ways, Hillary Clinton’s impending presidential nomination has been a long time coming for U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver.

The Kansas City Democrat was a strong supporter of Clinton in 2008. He said he felt immense pressure to back then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama – who, of course, would go onto become America’s first black president.

Gov. Sam Brownback and the Kansas Legislature continue to be unpopular, and the primary race in the 1st Congressional District is in a dead heat, according to a new survey from the Fort Hays State University Docking Institute. 

With the presidential nominations settled and Kansas races heating up ahead of the Aug. 2 primaries, Brad Pendergast, with the Docking Institute, says it was time for some new polling numbers.

Did conservative incumbents really put a stop to secret property tax increases, as postcards that started going out last week to Johnson County residents claim?

Depends on your definition of “secret.”

“There’s nothing secret about a public vote undertaken by public officials after public meetings are held,” says County Manager Hannes Zacharias. “It’s campaign material.”

Kansas is a red state. In Western Kansas, it’s deep red. But it’s also one of the most demographically diverse regions in the state. The population in several cities in the southwest corner is almost 50 percent Hispanic.

In Finney County, a small group of young  Democrats are working to engage that huge group of potential voters who have long been in the background. 

A state Senate race in the Topeka area shows how complicated this election cycle can be for some candidates. Kansas Republicans are running at a time when polls are showing the state’s Republican governor – and the Legislature itself – with pretty low approval ratings.

Senator Vicki Schmidt, a moderate Republican from Topeka’s 20th District, is not shy about the fact that she often doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Gov. Sam Brownback.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton may be claiming most of the headlines, but they aren't the only names on Missouri ballots. Guest host Kyle Palmer leads a look at the races for Governor, Secretary of State and Attorney General in the Show Me State.

Guests:

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Three Kansas residents sued Secretary of State Kris Kobach today, challenging the dual voter registration system that was proposed by Kobach and adopted by a state commission last week.

The system bars more than 17,000 Kansas voters from voting in state and local elections while allowing them to vote in federal election contests.

The State Rules and Regulations Board last week formally enacted the system as a temporary regulation. Temporary regulations expire in 120 days – in this case, that happens to coincide with the day after the general election on Nov. 8.

On Tuesday, a state board adopted a regulation proposed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office allowing thousands of Kansas voters whose registrations were suspended to vote in federal elections but not in state and local races.

As the 2016 legislative session was winding down in May, Sen. Jake LaTurner sat for an interview on a bench just outside the Old Supreme Courtroom.

The first-term Republican from Pittsburg was still about a half-year away from facing his first reelection challenge. But he could already anticipate one issue that would be big for his campaign.

"Highway 69 is always an issue in the elections," LaTurner said. "If you're a Republican, a Democrat, an independent, whatever your party affiliation is, you better be a supporter of Highway 69."

With little advance notice of the hearing, a state panel has approved a temporary election rule that will have some Kansans vote with provisional ballots, but only their votes in federal races will be counted. Votes for state and local races will be tossed out.

Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach proposed the rule. The Kansas Rules and Regulations Board approved it Tuesday morning after notice of the meeting was sent out Monday afternoon.

 

It’s time to start voting, Kansas.

From the top of the primary ballot to the bottom there are important decisions to make by Aug. 2.

Postcards, Shoe Leather Factor In Kansas Elections

Jul 8, 2016
A line-up of candidates at a meet-and-greet in Ulysses, Kansas. From left to right: District 39 Sen. Larry Powell, Congressional candidate Roger Marshall, state Rep. John Doll, and Democratic challenger Zach Worf.
Amy Jeffries / KCUR

In far Western Kansas, Senate District 39 spans 10 counties -- it’s vast and it’s flat.

For once, there is a Democratic candidate out here. Zach Worf, a political novice, is the first Democrat to try for the senate seat in a long time.

The real race is still the Republican primary. This time it’s a contest between incumbent Sen. Larry Powell and Garden City Rep. John Doll.

Doll says he knows what the prime attack against him will be: that he used to be a Democrat.

To say that many educators in Kansas are fed up with state lawmakers would be an understatement. The legislature has been putting a tighter and tighter squeeze on public schools in recent years. This election season, educators are trying to send legislators packing.

The Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB) estimates that all across the state roughly 50 current and former school board members, administrators, and teachers are candidates in legislative elections.

Kansans who register to vote using a federal form at the Department of Motor Vehicles will have to provide proof of citizenship as a lawsuit plays out, a judge ruled Wednesday.

The League of Women Voters and other civil rights groups had sought a preliminary injunction to block such rules in Kansas, Alabama and Georgia.

“Because it’s a barrier to voting,” says Dolores Furtado, the immediate past president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas. “The percentage of eligible registered people that vote is sometimes terrible.”

For years, political polling told us who was  likely to vote and how, but the cell phone complicated all that. With fewer people answering — or even owning — land-line numbers, polls became less reliable. A Chicago start-up is changing that tradition, and finding success.

Guest:

Thousands of people in Kansas have incomplete voter registrations, which means they haven’t been able to vote. They were caught up in the state’s requirement that some people provide citizenship documents when registering. Now, a federal appeals court says many of those people should be allowed to vote in federal elections.

Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has pushed for the more stringent voter registration rules to ensure security in elections, but voter advocacy groups say the cost has been too high.

Deborah Shaar / KMUW

 A new statewide poll suggests that political change could be in the air in Kansas.

The poll by John Zogby Strategies shows 71 percent of voters surveyed gave low ratings on how the state is performing its duties.

The survey included 433 registered voters in Kansas from June 4-6, 2016 and has a margin of error of +/- 4.7 percent. Political analyst John Zogby released the findings during a Kansas Health Foundation symposium in Wichita on Friday.

Zogby says the research suggests that Kansans might feel betrayed, especially when it comes to state policy issues.

For the first time in more than 30 years, there’s a Democrat running in every Kansas Senate district. But their fellow left-leaning Kansans might not be voting for them in August.

That’s because some are so fed up with Gov. Sam Brownback, they’d rather switch parties to vote for a moderate Republican in the primary than allow the governor’s supporters to stay in the Legislature.

A lifelong resident of Arlington, Kansas, 91-year-old Francis Burnett laughs when asked if she’s a Democrat.

Andy Marso / KHI News Service

A Kansas senator says a highway project in his district is back on schedule, drawing protests from Democrats who say Republican Gov. Sam Brownback picked that project over others to help a political ally in an election year.

The project to widen U.S. Highway 69 north of Pittsburg from two lanes to four was one of 25 delayed in April to help balance the state budget.

It sits in the district of Republican Sen. Jake LaTurner, who sent an open letter to Brownback decrying the delay.

Jim McLean / KHI News Service

The stage is set for what many believe could be a pivotal 2016 election season in Kansas.

With campaigns for all 165 seats in the Legislature, the opportunity for change is reflected in the roster of candidates certified by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach after Wednesday’s filing deadline.

Candidates running for office this fall could, in theory, call up a veritable army of support. For each party in every voting precinct there’s a position for one committeeman and one committeewoman. Across Kansas, that would add up to roughly 14,000 precinct captains. But, most of the positions are likely to be left vacant for the 2016 elections.

Lori Graham is a first-time candidate running for state Senate in District 27.

She’s been knocking on doors in northwest Wichita since January. Right now it’s just her, a handful of volunteers, and list of Republican voters.

U.S. Congressman Kevin Yoder says it remains to be seen if Kansans will back presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump in November.

Though Yoder has endorsed Trump, he waited to do so until after Ted Cruz and other candidates had dropped out of the race.

“My position is I support the nominee,” says Yoder.

Yoder says while Trump wasn’t his first choice, he doesn’t think Hillary Clinton reflects Kansas values.

Courtesy U.S. Department of Justice

While giving him two more weeks to comply, a federal judge let Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach know that she would brook no further delays in carrying out her order to restore 18,000 Kansas residents to the voter rolls.

In a harshly worded order Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson rejected Kobach’s claim that compliance with the court’s May 17 order would cause voter confusion and lead to “irreparable harm.”

Kobach did not return a call seeking comment.

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.

AP pool photo

The Senate race in Kansas isn't expected to be competitive and the governor isn't on the ballot this fall. So, the hardest fought statewide campaign might just involve four people you’ve never heard of.

For the first time ever there will be a coordinated effort to oust state Supreme Court justices.

The bad blood between the state Supreme Court and conservatives in Kansas goes back ten years to when the justices ordered the state to pump more than $500 million dollars more into public education.

The 2016 election could be a tough one for some Kansas lawmakers hoping to return to the Statehouse.

Polls, editorials and reader comments on news websites indicate that voters are paying attention to what’s happening in Topeka, and many don’t like what they’re seeing.

In the latest development in a long-standing disagreement between Kansas election officials and the federal Election Assistance Commission, a judge in Kansas has ruled that the state can't require people to show proof of U.S. citizenship when registering to vote at a motor vehicle office.

Kansas Republicans voted Saturday to leave support for the death penalty out of their party platform. It was the most contentious of the issues Republicans took up at their state convention in Topeka in anticipation of this year’s elections, which will decide the fate of all 125 House seats and 40 Senate seats in the state legislature.

bigstock.com

The Johnson County Election Office is coming up short on polling places to use come November.

Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker says he’s anticipating record-high turnout, possibly with more Kansans voting than in 2008.

“We would like to have 285 polling locations throughout our county,” Metsker says. “Right now we’re at about 195.”

Metsker says concerns about safety and security have crossed many places off his list.

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