A Johnson County District Court judge ruled Thursday in favor of a voting rights advocate seeking records about hundreds of ballots that were tossed in the August primary. Davis Hammet, president of Loud Light, asked for the names of individuals who cast provisional ballots and the justification for why they didn’t count. His request was rejected by the Johnson County election commissioner, Ronnie Metsker. The American Civil Liberties Union supported Hammet in a lawsuit challenging the lack of transparency. District Judge David Hauber ruled the refusal to provide names was a violation of the Kansas Open Records Act.”Now elections officials know that whenever they throw out a ballot people will know, and so they need to be really strict about standards,” Hammet said.
One of Hammet’s concerns is that the county didn’t attempt to notify people whose ballots were in jeopardy. Now, he plans to start telling people their votes didn’t count, and try to gather information about who was affected. Ballots are dismissed without knowledge of party affiliation or how votes are cast.
The county dismissed 898 ballots in the August primary for a variety of reasons. Of those, 153 were rejected under a state law that requires the signature on an advanced ballot to match the signature on file from when the person registered to vote.