Kansas: Unbothered by cost concerns, state senators approve ballot watermark bill | Noah Taborda/Kansas Reflector
The Senate on Tuesday approved a senator’s efforts to ensure all voting systems in Kansas use a paper ballot with a distinctive watermark. Senate Bill 389, introduced by Sen. Richard Hildebrand, R-Galena, also requires a hand audit of these ballots after the election. Currently, Kansas requires election clerks to physically stamp each ballot, but Hildebrand brought the bill to ensure human error does not come into play. In a hearing earlier this month, voting rights advocates raised concerns about the impact of the bill on Kansans with disabilities and the cost for counties to print new ballots. The concerns were echoed by Senate Democrats who said this would not address any real issue. “I am happy to support things that will make our election process more secure. I don’t see any way that this would do that,” said Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, during debate over the bill on Monday. “I also know that we are putting all the cost of this on our counties, and it is not something that any of my county residents have asked for.” Hildebrand countered that the cost was with the perceived security. “How much is peace of mind worth? Two cents? I’ll put my two cents in,” Hildebrand said. The state would not incur any costs, although counties would incur costs related to ballot printing and additional wages for election board workers. The Senate gave preliminary approval to the bill on Monday, then passed it 27-11 on Tuesday.