Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Wednesday that he has no plans to recuse himself from a recount process in the race for governor because any counting of ballots would take place at the county level. “The recount thing is done on a county level, so the secretary of state does not actually participate directly in the recount,” Kobach said at a campaign event in Topeka after initial results showed him winning by fewer than 200 votes. “The secretary of state’s office merely serves as a coordinating entity overseeing it all but not actually counting the votes,” Kobach said, contending that his role puts him at arm’s length from the actual recount. No law requires Kobach to recuse himself, but legal and political experts said that he should do so to maintain trust in the election. Kobach, the state’s top election official, led Gov. Jeff Colyer in the Republican primary by a mere 191 votes Wednesday morning after each of the state’s 105 counties had posted election returns after technical difficulties in Johnson County delayed results on election night.
Colyer has the right to request that Kobach’s office initiate a recount if he remains trailing after counties tabulate provisional ballots and mail-in ballots postmarked by the deadline.
He would also have to file a bond with Kobach’s office to cover the cost of a recount at a price set by Kobach. If a candidate wins following a recount, no action would be taken on the bond.
Mark Johnson, a Kansas City attorney with experience in election law, said Kobach’s role in setting the cost is the primary reason why he should recuse himself from the process. He said Kobach should cede this authority to a deputy.