Three federal judges who will set new political boundaries for Kansas told Secretary of State Kris Kobach on Monday that they are uncomfortable resolving redistricting issues as quickly as he wants and that potential administrative problems in overseeing elections are not as important as gathering different perspectives on how lines should be drawn. Kobach was in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., for a pretrial hearing as the defendant in a lawsuit over state legislators’ failure to approve any redistricting proposals this year. Lawmakers were supposed to adjust the lines of congressional, state House, state Senate and State Board of Education districts to reflect population shifts over the past decade, but a bitter feud among Republicans prevented it.
Kansas is the only state in the nation in which legislators haven’t drawn new congressional districts, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Kobach was pushing the judges to impose their maps by June 4, a week ahead of the state’s candidate filing deadline, so Kansas can hold its primary election on Aug. 7 as planned without major glitches.
He sought to limit the number of individuals who could participate in the lawsuit, objecting to requests from seven of at least 14 voters and public officials who sought to intervene. But the judges ruled that all of them could participate, including U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, state House Minority Leader Paul Davis and state Senate Reapportionment Committee Chairman Tim Owens. After the hearing, Attorney General Derek Schmidt filed his own request asking for permission to join Kobach as a defendant.