Kansas lawmakers are vowing to take a fresh look at the state’s election laws after the slim margin between Kris Kobach and Jeff Colyer in the Republican race for governor exposed a sometimes creaky and subjective vote-counting system. Even before the fight over the results of last week’s election, a nationwide review of state election systems ranked Kansas below nearly every other state. Ballots improperly filled out, mail-in ballots without postmarks, even the vote of a person who later died – all landed in the laps of local election officials who made sometimes-conflicting decisions. Two of the largest counties —Johnson and Sedgwick — took different approaches to counting some ballots cast by unaffiliated voters. For some, the deciding factor over whether their vote counted was what county they live in.
“I think when things get this close, it exposes maybe some of the problems we could hopefully address,” said Sen. John Skubal, an Overland Park Republican.
Gov. Colyer conceded to Secretary of State Kobach Tuesday night, a week after the polls closed. In the past seven days, the two men waged a battle over ballots in a conflict that seemed destined for a recount and lawsuit before Colyer’s sudden concession.
The result is no longer in doubt – Kobach is the Republican nominee. But interviews with more than a dozen lawmakers, officials and experts revealed a desire to clean up the state’s election laws, which they say are not always clear.