The Kansas Constitution ought to be amended to end revision of population figures to reflect where military members and college students resided for purposes of drawing political boundaries, the Kansas secretary of state said Wednesday.
"The adjustment requirement is burdensome, antiquated and expensive," said Scott Schwab, the Republican secretary of state. "Kansas is the only state in the nation that continues to adjust census numbers. I think this provision of the constitution is a waste."
He told the Senate Ethics, Elections and Local Government Committee the state would have to spend an estimated $834,000 to adjust the 2020 U.S. Census figures to prepare for redrawing political boundaries for House and Senate districts.
"I had no idea that dollar amount would be $800,000. That amount is significant," said Sen. John Skubal, R-Overland Park.
Schwab said the population report relied upon for redistricting would be delayed three to six months while a private consultant contacted all college students and military personnel in Kansas to determine where each wanted to be counted as residents, he said. The district maps are based on population.
The adjustments of census figures has been done in Kansas to help rural areas retain — for redistricting — people who had moved elsewhere to serve in the military or attend college. However, the revisions favored urban centers after the 2010 U.S. Census.
Schwab said previous secretaries of state had attempted to advance legislation to do away with the constitutional mandate. He told senators the obstacle to reform nearly a decade ago was simple politics. The GOP House leadership kept all election legislation off the House floor to prevent consideration of legislation that would disclose the identity of certain donors to political organizations operating in Kansas.
"To be honest," Schwab said, "it should have been done 10 years ago."
Senate Concurrent Resolution 1605 would have to be approved by two-thirds majorities of the House and Senate to be placed on a statewide ballot. A simple majority of people voting on the constitutional question would determine the fate of the amendment. The August ballot would be ideal, Schwab said.