www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

Running for the wrong bus -7/28/2014, 9:04 AM

Old Old Mexico -- Culture and content -7/28/2014, 9:03 AM

The defining issue of economic recovery -7/27/2014, 4:53 PM

In a world of sectarian violence, what can be done? -7/27/2014, 4:53 PM

Funding DHDC -7/27/2014, 1:18 PM

Endorsement for Shultz -7/25/2014, 3:28 PM

Against the wind -7/25/2014, 4:23 PM

Do blacks need favors? -7/25/2014, 4:23 PM

Vote Huelskamp out -7/25/2014, 4:23 PM

Open meetings -7/24/2014, 8:07 AM

Leadership change needed -7/24/2014, 8:07 AM

Vote for Huelskamp -7/24/2014, 8:06 AM

Protecting unborn children -7/24/2014, 8:06 AM

Learning experience valuable -7/24/2014, 8:06 AM

False equivalence -7/23/2014, 8:07 AM

Measles' scary comeback -7/23/2014, 1:27 PM

The 'big data' deal -7/23/2014, 10:07 AM

GOP can't get out of its own way -7/23/2014, 10:07 AM

War only will add to Middle East problems -7/22/2014, 8:10 AM

Avoiding taxes -7/22/2014, 8:10 AM

Take the win in Iran -7/21/2014, 8:57 AM

The high court's high-handedness -7/21/2014, 8:57 AM

Up in arms in the Capitol -7/20/2014, 4:52 PM

Firefighters weigh in on pay raise -7/20/2014, 4:52 PM

Backpacks for Kids -7/20/2014, 4:52 PM

Our unwillingness to defend ourselves -7/18/2014, 10:51 AM

Remembering a man who championed freedom -7/18/2014, 10:51 AM

GOP split -7/17/2014, 8:38 AM

New Kansas senator -7/17/2014, 8:37 AM

Who'll build the roads? -7/17/2014, 8:37 AM

Reagan: In or out? -7/16/2014, 2:45 PM

'Unbroken' WWII vet more than a hero -7/16/2014, 2:44 PM

Savor the fruits of your labor -7/16/2014, 2:44 PM

Erasing candidate's standards -7/15/2014, 11:36 AM

Returning to Trail Wood -7/15/2014, 10:13 AM

Leaving some in 'suspense' -7/15/2014, 10:13 AM

Strangers in a remarkable land -7/14/2014, 9:11 AM

Courageous or spineless? Our actions decide -7/14/2014, 9:11 AM

Ambition: An unlikely gift to Kansas voters -7/13/2014, 11:16 AM

Beyond the outrage -7/13/2014, 11:16 AM

Water watch -7/13/2014, 11:16 AM

Scenic outlooks -7/11/2014, 9:18 AM

China's research trumps teaching -7/11/2014, 9:17 AM

Important slow news -7/10/2014, 9:42 AM

We've got a promise to keep -7/10/2014, 9:33 AM

The white combine calls -7/9/2014, 10:02 AM

Vote for family values -7/9/2014, 10:02 AM

Politicians making a mockery of my faith -7/9/2014, 10:02 AM

Missing tribute -7/9/2014, 10:02 AM

Rural students deserve 21st Century education -7/8/2014, 9:10 AM

The education table dance -7/8/2014, 9:10 AM

A new virus -7/8/2014, 9:10 AM

Government as God -7/7/2014, 9:38 AM

EPA affecting others -7/7/2014, 9:38 AM

'Narrow' decision from the narrow-minded -7/7/2014, 9:38 AM

The tax trap -7/6/2014, 4:35 PM

Rulings produce 'First Amendment fireworks' -7/6/2014, 4:35 PM

Firefighter salaries -7/6/2014, 4:35 PM

Economic freedom -7/4/2014, 11:54 AM

Protecting our independence -7/4/2014, 11:54 AM

Dan Johnson, 1936-2014 -7/3/2014, 7:12 AM

New Iraq offensive backfires -7/3/2014, 7:11 AM

Setting things straight -7/3/2014, 7:11 AM

'Crapitalism' -7/3/2014, 7:11 AM

Feeding peace throughout the world -7/2/2014, 9:01 AM

Half way is still only half way -7/2/2014, 9:01 AM

Sherow a better choice -7/2/2014, 9:01 AM

Fireworks, part II -7/2/2014, 9:01 AM

Reality show made in Topeka -7/1/2014, 8:53 AM

The justices and their cellphones -7/1/2014, 8:53 AM

LOB defeated -7/1/2014, 8:53 AM

Tragedy explored in 'Broken Heart Land' -6/30/2014, 9:14 AM

Mexico City: The adventure continues -6/30/2014, 9:14 AM

Even our youngest Americans are citizens -6/29/2014, 12:58 PM

Ban on fireworks -6/29/2014, 12:58 PM

It's time to teach active citizenship -6/29/2014, 12:57 PM

The education establishment's success -6/27/2014, 10:39 AM

Piecework professors -6/27/2014, 10:39 AM

Marriage for all -6/27/2014, 10:39 AM

Prairie chicken madness -6/26/2014, 4:17 PM

Omission control -6/26/2014, 10:12 AM

Equal in the eyes of the law -6/26/2014, 10:12 AM

Help wanted -6/26/2014, 10:12 AM

The old red barn -6/25/2014, 9:19 AM

Beware the unimaginable -6/25/2014, 9:19 AM

Early critic of school testing was right -6/24/2014, 8:53 AM

Finding something 'different' in Topeka -6/24/2014, 8:53 AM

Shopping small -6/24/2014, 8:53 AM

Into the classroom -6/23/2014, 8:55 AM

Wow! And thanks to you -6/23/2014, 8:55 AM

Fireworks double-standard -6/23/2014, 8:55 AM

Glass half full -6/22/2014, 5:57 PM

Brownback's experiment wallops taxpayers -6/22/2014, 5:56 PM

Examining the importance of 'where' we speak -6/22/2014, 5:56 PM

Slavery reparations -6/20/2014, 8:33 AM

'Help me plagiarize' -6/20/2014, 8:33 AM

Thank a farmer -6/20/2014, 8:33 AM

Here comes tomorrow -6/19/2014, 8:43 AM

Why Americans dislike soccer -6/19/2014, 8:43 AM

Switching to teaching -6/18/2014, 4:32 PM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

Integrity of elections goes far beyond ID

Published on -2/17/2013, 7:06 PM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

We're almost two years away from the 2014 general election, but Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach already has an opponent.

Asserting Kobach is "out of control," Democrat Randy Rolston, a Lenexa businessman, immediately put $200,000 of his own money into his nascent campaign.

Rolston said he would put a lot more of his money into the race and, with the help of donors, could foresee spending more than a $1 million.

If Kobach matches that sort of fundraising -- and outside groups decide they'll plunk hundreds of thousands of dollars supporting one of the candidates -- it not only could be the most expensive SOS race in Kansas history, but also in U.S. history.

During his tenure, Kobach has talked about preserving the integrity of elections in Kansas and, as such, has helped pass legislation putting in place voter-ID laws and a new law requiring proof of citizenship when registering to vote.

Most recently, he has asked the Legislature to give his office the power to prosecute voter fraud cases. No doubt these issues will be talked about during the next 20 months of the SOS campaign. However, if we are concerned about the integrity of Kansas elections, there is one big question that needs to be asked, and addressed, that in the end could matter much more than voter registration rules: Should Kansas have a partisan political figure be in charge of its elections in the first place?

On the face of it, it is absurd to have a partisan party member running elections, as it creates an inherent conflict of interest. Kobach, for example, is the former chairman of the Republican Party, and in 2012, while secretary of state, operated a political action committee that donated money to specific candidates running for office.

In short, imagine the head referee of the next KU-North Carolina game being the former Tar Heel coach and having thousands of dollars bet on the North Carolina players to do well. Nobody would stand for it in basketball, and we should not put up with it in our elections.

So what are the other options? One option would be to take away the election duties of the Secretary of State office. The SOS would be in charge of filing, recording, and certification of all official and business documents in the state. The business of elections could then be run by a state board. This is how it is done in several states, including Oklahoma, New York and Wisconsin.

Does this mitigate partisanship? Well, it certainly can, depending on the model. In Oklahoma, the largest political party gets two members of the three-member board; in New York, the board is truly bipartisan, as both major parties get two members of the four member board; Wisconsin is very interesting. There, in 2008, the state Legislature (in what was dubbed a "rare moment of enlightenment") created an election board in which the governor chooses former judges from a list selected by current state appeals court judges, who then must be confirmed by the state senate.

In Wisconsin, judges cannot be affiliated with a political party, and to serve on the election board a judge must have served six years to be eligible -- 12 years removed from partisan politics.

The simplest solution might be the best: Keep an elected secretary of state, but ban him or her from involvement with partisan political activities (no campaign donations, no attending state or national political conventions, etc.). Better yet, make the secretary of state unaffiliated with a party. Since 30 percent of all Kansans are registered unaffiliated, I doubt we would lack for qualified candidates, and the referee would not be cheering for a winner during the game.

Bob Beatty is a professor of political science at Washburn University.

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos