Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican, says Kansans should be able to cast a straight-ticket ballot, where a voter could select all of a party’s nominees by checking just one box. “It’s a matter of voter convenience,” he told reporters last week. That would be news to former state Sen. John Loudon of Missouri, also a Republican. In the mid-2000s he sponsored legislation that ended straight-ticket voting in his state, claiming it confused voters. “There’s really no virtue to it at all,” he said then. Now, reasonable politicians can disagree on issues, but both Republicans can’t be right. Straight-ticket balloting either helps voters or hurts them. But the fact that two members of the same party disagree so sharply — in two different states — suggests their views are less about voter convenience and more about manipulating outcomes at the voting booth.
Loudon was clear on this. He said he wanted to end the practice because of an “explosion” of Democratic straight-ticket balloting in St. Louis County. And at the time, four out of five Kansas City voters cast straight-ticket ballots, almost always for Democrats.
In Kansas, by contrast, straight-ticket voting would likely help Republicans because of their registration advantage. Enter Kobach.
Kansans have a serious case of outrage fatigue. But let’s hope they can summon at least some anger at this latest attempt to manipulate polling rules for partisan purposes.