Whether you subscribe to Bill Gates' vision that the Internet is "becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow" or merely a place for like-minded individuals to find strength in numbers, the online world is here to stay. And with it, the further blurring of truth from fact.

We need elected officials and others in positions of authority to be able to separate the two. In Kansas, it doesn't appear we have that luxury.

On Monday, a challenge to having President Barack Obama's name on the November ballot finally was concluded. Election officials determined they would allow Obama's name to appear. Not because they determined the president was eligible, but because the challenge was withdrawn.

"There's no possibility of Obama's name coming off the ballot when there's no objection," said Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Kobach chairs the State Objections Board, which also includes Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer. The trio had received the challenge from a self-identified tea party person from Manhattan, who apparently believes all the birther movement propaganda circulating on the web. Joe Montgomery not only questioned whether the president has a valid birth certificate but that Obama shouldn't be eligible to hold the office because his father was from Kenya.

Both assertions long have been discredited, but continue to live their own lives on the Internet. Montgomery claimed he had spent the past four years "researching" the issues.

Rather than dismiss Montgomery's challenge as a waste of time and tax dollars, the board reported it had no paperwork attesting to the president's citizenship and needed to get certified documents from Hawaii, where Obama was born. Kobach also planned to have staff talk with officials in Arizona and Mississippi, where similar investigations have taken place.

"We have to take our responsibilities seriously," Kobach said last week. "Taking it seriously means that we make a decision with all of the evidence that can be obtained before we decide it."

We believe the board should take its responsibilities seriously as well. For us, that also would include not pursuing baseless charges already disproved.

Kobach didn't see it that way. At the time of the challege's filing, the secretary said: "I don't think it's a frivolous objection."

Of course he wouldn't. Kobach has raised questions about the president's birth certificate in the past. Likely he's seen a lot of the same proof others have seen -- right there on the Internet.

Caveat emptor ... Let the buyer beware.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net