Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s voting proposals have always been about marginalizing certain citizens and smoothing the way for Republican candidates. This year’s crop of ideas, a couple of which unfortunately are moving in the Legislature, is more of the same. The House Elections Committee has recommended that the full House pass a Kobach bill to restore straight-ticket voting in Kansas. Combine that with a proposal by Gov. Sam Brownback, which Kobach supports, to move elections for local and judicial races from the spring to the fall, and you can see where this is headed. Brownback and Kobach would love nothing more than to engineer a partisan takeover of local races by creating long ballots with a tempting option at the top to simply vote the ticket.
Kobach, who has the gift of saying astounding things with a straight face, told the committee he thought voting in Kansas should be more convenient. This, remember, is the official who sent 20,000 citizens into “suspended” voting status last year, forcing them to jump through hoops even if they registered properly under federal law.
There is a reason most states, including Kansas, have gotten rid of straight ticket voting. It encourages laziness and rigs the process if one party has a big advantage, as Republicans do in Kansas.