Current Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is no stranger to voting-related controversies. Now, though, he’s found himself embroiled in a new one. He holds a tiny leading margin over current Kansas governor and GOP gubernatorial primary opponent Jeff Colyer, who has now claimed that Kobach’s office was issuing incorrect instructions to Kansas counties regarding still to be counted votes.
Most often, winners of elections can be declared rather promptly, with one candidate maintaining an insurmountable lead over their opponent. No number of the late-counted ballots can change the outcome in those cases.
That’s not what’s happening here, though. Any small number of ballots can change the outcome, as Kobach’s lead over Colyer has hovered around 100 votes, although it’s fluctuated. In that light, Colyer wants to make sure that every small number of ballots is counted properly, and he claimed on Fox News that Kobach’s office has been thwarting that aim.
He commented as much following Kobach recusing himself from the vote-counting process. As the current Secretary of State in Kansas, had he not done so, he himself would have been the final authority in the process of counting votes in a race that he himself is in.
Kobach dismissed the recusal as “purely symbolic,” but Colyer countered.
He told a Fox host:
‘The issue is this, though, when a judge recuses himself, he doesn’t just recuse himself from the counting of the jurors’ votes, he recuses himself from the instructions. And Secretary Kobach’s office was instructing counties not to count ballots that are in the mail, and those clearly have to be counted under Kansas law.’
Colyer’s reference to ballots that are in the mail refers to absentee ballots that were sent in as late as Tuesday, the day of the Kansas GOP gubernatorial primary election itself.
‘I want to make sure that all of the provisional ballots are counted appropriately where there are the issues there, such as independents who can become Republicans, who were given a provisional ballot — those ballots must be counted.’
In Kansas, voters with no party affiliation can go to the polls on election day and switch their affiliation to a major party, as Colyer mentions. He wants to make sure that their votes are counted, too.
Kobach denied Colyer’s claims of him ignoring ballots that should be counted, claiming Friday via a press release from his office that “allegations that my office has given inaccurate advice to local election officials regarding the handling and counting of mail-in and provision ballots” are false.
Kobach worked on President Donald Trump’s short lived commission to investigate non-existent voter fraud, and in Kansas, he’s worked to curtail voting access through such means as strict requirements for registration. A federal judge did though, for the record, strike down his imposition of a requirement for prospective voters to prove their citizenship before registering.
Through it all, he’s maintained a close allegiance to President Trump, who endorsed him ahead of last Tuesday’s primary. Kobach’s failure to finish with a strong lead over his opponent could be only a sign of things to come in the face of a “blue wave” in the midterms later this year.
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