Is voting rigged in Sedgwick County? Is there any way to prove it is or isn’t? Those are the fundamental questions underlying a Kansas Court of Appeals case to be argued Tuesday morning in a special court session at Friends University in Wichita. The appeals court is being asked to allow a recount of votes on audit tapes from voting machines to test the accuracy of the tallies reported by Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman. Wichita State University statistician Beth Clarkson has tried for seven years to gain access to the tapes. Her request was denied by Lehman and the denial was upheld in district court. Lehman and Sedgwick County say that there is no problem with the votes and releasing the tapes would risk compromising the secrecy of people’s ballots. Tuesday’s appeal arguments will feature two prominent Wichita attorneys.
Randy Rathbun, a former U.S. attorney for Kansas, will argue the case on behalf of Clarkson, who originally represented herself in court. Assistant County Counselor Michael North will represent Lehman and the election office.
Clarkson, who holds a doctorate in mathematics and works as a statistician for WSU’s National Institute for Aviation Research, has done several statistical analyses of past elections and unearthed what she believes to be tampering with the electronic machinery that counts and tallies votes.
“There are statistical indications that are consistent with concerns about deliberate manipulation,” Clarkson said. “Followed by the fact that there’s no transparency in the process. … We’re not allowed to see the records or do any checking, we’re basically supposed to accept it on faith that everybody’s doing their job and if everybody does their job there won’t be any problems.”