In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Wichita Eagle labels hold a clue to the newspaper’s attitude, Kansas Democratic Party income tax reckoning, straight-ticket voting could leave some issues unvoted, and how a minimum wage hike would harm the most vulnerable workers. View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Episode 72, broadcast January 25, 2015.
There are several issues involved with straight-party voting. Kansas shouldn’t adopt this practice. But on the other hand, why not?
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is proposing to add an option for straight party ticket voting in Kansas elections. If enacted, voters would be able to take one action — one pull of the lever, so to speak — and cast a vote for all candidates of a party for all offices.
I see a few issues.
1. What if a party does not field a candidate for an office? A notable and prominent example is the recent election in which the Kansas Democratic Party did not field a candidate for a major office, that of United States Senator. What if a person pulls the “Straight Democratic Party” lever (or checks the box)? Who will get their vote for senator? Will the voting machine present an exception to the voter and ask them to make a selection for senator? Conceivably this could be done with voting machines, which are, after all, computers. But what about those who vote using paper ballots, like all the advance voters who vote by mail?
Other parties such as the Libertarian Party may also contribute to this problem, as the party may not have candidates for all offices.
2. The ballot items for judges on the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court are of the form “Shall justice so-and-so be retained? Yes or No.” If a voter votes a straight party ballot for the sake of time and convenience — so important to the Secretary of State — will the voter take the time to vote on these judicial retention matters? Or does anyone really know anything about these judges?
3. Initiatives are not associated with a party. An example is the recent Wichita sales tax question, where voters selected either yes or no. This matter was way down the ballot, below the judicial retention elections.
4. Like initiatives, referenda are not associated with a party.
5. Questions regarding the adoption of constitutional amendments are not associated with a party. They appear near the end of ballots.
6. Undervoting, that is, not casting a vote for any candidate for an office, is a perfectly acceptable choice. There have been many times where I thought that none of the candidates for an office were worthy of my vote. Therefore, I voted for no one. A related consideration: I don’t think Kansas needs an insurance commissioner. Therefore, I voted for none of the candidates.
The Wichita Eagle quoted Kobach: “I think it will improve participation in races down the ballot and it’s a matter of voter convenience too.”
But given the above considerations, do you think one-touch straight-ticket voting will improve participation in down-ballot issues? Move votes may be cast, but are they informed votes? No? Well, this isn’t the first time reason conflicts with what Kris Kobach wants to do.
On the other hand, if voters are informed of the considerations listed above and still want the option to cast a straight-party ballot with one touch, well, why not?
Here’s a map I created of the vote percentage Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach received by precinct. To use an interactive version of this map, click here. On the interactive map you may zoom and scroll, and you may click on a precinct for more information about the votes for that precinct.
In this episode of Voice for Liberty Radio: Candidates for Republican party nomination for Kansas Secretary of State spoke at the Wichita Pachyderm Club on July 18, 2014. The candidates are incumbent Kris Kobach and challenger Scott Morgan. The issue of voting, particularly the requirement for proof of citizenship when registering to vote, is an issue that separates the two candidates.
The format of the meeting was an opening statement by each candidate followed by questions from the audience and a brief closing statement.
I asked a question about whether the state’s chief election officer should have a political action committee that engages in electioneering. Kobach replied that this practice is legal, which it is. As to its propriety, Kobach said that statewide officials frequently endorse candidates. Morgan said it is not ethical or appropriate for the secretary of state to have a political action committee. As to Kobach’s argument that since other statewide officials are able to endorse candidates, that means the secretary of state should also, there is a distinguishing factor: Those other officials aren’t in charge of administering Kansas elections.
As the Kansas Legislature begins its 2014 session today, citizens who want to keep track of the happenings have these resources available.
Video and audio
The Kansas Legislature doesn’t broadcast or archive video of its proceedings except in rare instances of committee hearings. Travis Perry of Kansas Watchdog reports on this issue in Camera shy: KS legislators sidestep transparency and Eye in the sky: Kansas legislative leader won’t require streaming video.
Both the House and Senate broadcast audio of their proceedings. But you must listen live, as the broadcasts are not made available to the public in any other way. It would be exceedingly simple to make these past broadcasts available to the public. It could be done at no cost on YouTube, and at little cost at other sites specifically tailored to host audio. As a side benefit, at YouTube the recordings would be transcribed by machine, giving a rough transcript of the proceedings. (I use the adjective “rough,” as if you have viewed these transcripts, they vary widely in accuracy. But they still have value.)
Broadcasting video of House and Senate proceedings would be a large step that would probably have a large cost. But archiving the audio and making it available provides nearly all the benefit of video, and at very little additional cost.
Kansas Legislative Research Department (KLRD) has many documents that are useful in understanding state government and the legislature. This agency’s home page is Kansas Legislative Research Department. Of particular interest:
Kansas Legislative Briefing Book. This book’s audience is legislators, but anyone can benefit. The book has a chapter for major areas of state policy and legislation, giving history, background, and explanations of law. In some years the entire collection of material has been made available as a single pdf file, but not so this year. Contact information for the legislative analysts is made available in each chapter. The most recent version can be found on the Reports and Publications page. So far a version for 2014 is not available. (Update: The 2014 version is here.)
Kansas Fiscal Facts. This book, in 124 pages (for 2011), provides “basic budgetary facts” to those without budgetary experience. It provides an overview of the budget, and then more information for each of the six branches of Kansas state government. There is a glossary and contact information for the fiscal analysts responsible for different areas of the budget. This document is updated each year. The most recent version can be found on the Reports and Publications page.
Legislative Procedure in Kansas. This book of 236 pages holds the rules and explanations of how the Kansas Legislature works. It was last revised in November 2006, but the subject that is the content of this book changes slowly over the years. The direct link is Legislative Procedure in Kansas, November 2006.
How a Bill Becomes Law. This is a one-page diagram of the legislative steps involved in passing laws. The direct link is How a Bill Becomes Law.
Summary of Legislation. This document is created each year, and is invaluable in remembering what laws were passed each year. From its introduction: “This publication includes summaries of the legislation enacted by the 2011 Legislature. Not summarized are bills of a limited, local, technical, clarifying, or repealing nature, and bills that were vetoed (sustained).” 204 pages for 2011. The most recent version can be found on the Reports and Publications page.
Legislative Highlights. This is a more compact version of the Summary of Legislation, providing the essentials of the legislative session in 12 pages for 2011. The most recent version can be found on the Reports and Publications page.
Kansas Tax Facts. This book provides information on state and local taxes in Kansas. The most recent version can be found on the Revenue and Tax page.
Kansas Statutes. The laws of our state. The current statutes can be found at the Revisor of Statutes page.
Kansas Register. From the Kansas Secretary of State: “The Kansas Register is the official state newspaper. This publication provides a wide range of information such as proposed and adopted administrative regulations, new state laws, bond sales and redemptions, notice of open meetings, state contracts offered for bid, attorney general opinions, and many other public notices.” The Register is published each week, and may be found at Kansas Register.
There’s a thorny question here: Who owns your ballot? You, or the state? If you, then can you be prohibited from photographing something that you own?
The usual argument for such a law is that it constrains the buying and selling of votes. A photo of your ballot, it is said, would be proof to a vote-buyer that you delivered the service you promised, if you were to sell your vote. With no ability to prove your vote, it’s thought that there would be fewer buyers.
I don’t think, however, that the state should start judging why people voted as they did. Those who voted for Democrats in Kansas: Did they do so because these candidates promised to take more money from others in order to spend more on schools for their children?
Those who voted for Barack Obama: Did they do so because he promised to take more taxes from high income earners to give everyone else more “stuff?”
When a political party transports someone to the polling place because they believe the voter will vote in their favor: Is that buying a vote? Or only providing free shipping and handling?
As H.L. Mencken wrote some years ago — before government got really big — “Every election is a sort of advance auction of stolen goods.” Whether the sale is implicit or explicit, it doesn’t change what’s happening. There’s no need to create new laws or enforcement powers.
If we’re really interested in reducing the market to buy and sell votes, let’s reduce the power of government to give away stuff that someone else has paid for.
Wichita City council. As it is the fourth Tuesday of the month, the Wichita City Council handles only consent agenda items. The council will also hold a workshop. Consent agendas are usually reserved for items thought to be of non-controversial nature. Today’s Wichita Eagle spotlights one item where the city is proposing to hire an outside firm to inspect the roof of the airport for damage from last September’s storm. Some, including Council Member Michael O’Donnell (district 4, south and southwest Wichita) wonder why the city can’t do the inspection with it’s own engineering staff and resources. … Of further note is that the city proposes to use general obligation bonds to borrow the funds to pay for this inspection. This is similar to last December, when the city decided to also use bonds to borrow money to pay for an analysis of nine aging fire stations and what repairs and upgrades they might require. While borrowing to pay for long-term capital projects is fine, this is borrowing for thinking about long-term projects. … The workshop will cover Century II parking meters, something involving the North Industrial Corridor, and a presentation on next year’s budget. The detailed agenda packet is at Wichita City Council May 24, 2011. No similar information is available for the workshop topics. … Next week is the fifth Tuesday of a month and the day after a holiday, so there’s two reasons to explain why there won’t be a city council meeting next week.
Sedgwick County Commission. In its Wednesday meeting, the Sedgwick County Commission will consider approval of the county’s portion of the Hawker Beechcraft deal. In order to persuade Hawker to stay in Kansas rather than move to Louisiana, the State of Kansas offered $40 million in various form of incentive and subsidy, and it was proposed at the time that the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County each add $2.5 million. Last week the Wichita City Council approved its share, which can only be described as corporate welfare. It was widely reported that Hawker had received an offer, said by some to be worth as much as $400 million, to move to Louisiana. But that offer was not a valid threat of Hawker leaving Kansas, as in a December 2010 television news report, Louisiana’s governor said “they couldn’t guarantee the number of jobs that would have been required for them to come here.” … The meeting agenda is at Sedgwick County Commission, May 25, 2011.
Kobach on voter reform in Wall Street Journal. Today’s Wall Street Journal opinion section carries a piece by Kris W. Kobach, who is Kansas Secretary of State. The title is The Case for Voter ID: You can’t cash a check, board a plane, or even buy full-strength Sudafed over the counter without ID. Why should voting be different? In it, Kobach writes Kansas is the only state with all of these elements of voter ID reform: “(1) a requirement that voters present photo IDs when they vote in person; (2) a requirement that absentee voters present a full driver’s license number and have their signatures verified; and (3) a proof of citizenship requirement for all newly registered voters.” In support of the need for these reforms, Kobach provides evidence of the prevalence of election fraud. He also cites evidence that there is already widespread possession of the documents necessary to vote: “According to the 2010 census, there are 2,126,179 Kansans of voting age. According to the Kansas Department of Motor Vehicles, 2,156,446 Kansans already have a driver’s license or a non-driver ID. In other words, there are more photo IDs in circulation than there are eligible voters. The notion that there are hundreds of thousands of voters in Kansas (or any other state) without photo IDs is a myth.” … Some critics of these reforms fear that they will suppress voter turnout, and primarily that of Democratic Party voters. Kobach counters: “If election security laws really were part of a Republican scheme to suppress Democratic votes, one would expect Democrats to fight such laws, tooth and nail. That didn’t happen in Kansas, where two-thirds of the Democrats in the House and three-fourths of the Democrats in the Senate voted in favor of the Secure and Fair Elections Act. They did so because they realize that fair elections protect every voter and every party equally. No candidate, Republican or Democrat, wants to emerge from an election with voters suspecting that he didn’t really win. Election security measures like the one in my state give confidence to voters and candidates alike that the system is fair.” … The bill is HB 2067, and is the easiest way to understand it is by reading the supplemental note.
Tiahrt, former Congressman, to address Pachyderms. This week the Wichita Pachyderm Club features Todd Tiahrt, Former Congressman for the fourth district of Kansas, speaking on the topic “Outsourcing Our National Security — How the Pentagon is Working Against Us.” I suspect the prolonged decision process of selecting where the build the Air Force refueling tanker will be a topic. After the Pentagon awarded to contract to AirBus in 2008, which Boeing protested, the Wall Street Journal wrote: “The Pentagon’s job is to defend the country, which means letting contracts that best serve American soldiers and taxpayers, not certain companies. Defense Department rules explicitly state that jobs cannot be a factor in procurement and that companies from certain countries, including France, must be treated as if they are U.S. firms in contract bids. Such competition ensures that taxpayers get the best value for their money and soldiers get the best technology.” More on this decision is here. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.
Wichita speaker lineup set. The schedule of speakers for the Wichita Pachyderm Club for the next several weeks is set, and as usual, it looks to be an interesting set of programs. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club. Upcoming speakers are: On June 3, Nola Tedesco Foulston, District Attorney, Eighteenth Judicial District of Kansas, speaking on “An office overview and current events at the Eighteenth Judicial District of Kansas District Attorney’s office.” On June 10, John Allison, Superintendent of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, on “An update from USD 259.” On June 17, The Honorable Lawton R. Nuss, Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice on “The State of the Kansas Courts.” On June 24, Jim Mason, Naturalist at the Great Plains Nature Center will have a presentation and book signing. Mason is author of Wichita’s Riverside Parks, published in April 2011. On July 1, Jay M. Price, Director of the Public History Program at Wichita State University, speaking on “Classes of Values in Kansas History.” On July 8, Dave Trabert, President, Kansas Policy Institute, on “Stabilizing the Kansas Budget.”
Blue Ribbon Commission coming to Wichita. “Local residents will have an opportunity to voice concerns and offer suggestions on how to improve the state’s court systems during two public meetings next week in Wichita. A panel from the Blue Ribbon Commission (BRC), which was appointed by the Kansas Supreme Court to review the state’s court systems, will listen to public comments during the meetings at 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm, Thursday, May 26, 2011 at Century II, in Room 101, in Wichita. The BRC will examine ways to assure proper access to justice, the number of court locations, services provided in each location, hours of operation, the use of technology, possible cost reductions, and flexibility in the use of court personnel and other resources, and any other topic that may lead to the more efficient operation of our courts.” For more information, see the Blue Ribbon Commission Website.
School choice cast as civil rights issue. Star Parker, after citing the case of a homeless mother who falsified an address so her child could get into a good school: “Public school reality today for black kids is one that overwhelmingly keeps them incarcerated in failing, dangerous schools. It’s evidence of the indomitable human spirit that, despite horrible circumstances, many poor unmarried black mothers understand the importance of getting their child educated and will do whatever it takes to get their kid into a decent school. … But let’s not forget the bigger picture that the NAACP has consistently opposed school choice and voucher initiatives and has been a stalwart defender of the public school system that traps these kids and prohibits the freedom and flexibility that these mothers seek. … Generally, black establishment politicians and organizations such as the NAACP have defended government public schools and education status quo and sadly have hurt their own communities. Nothing contributes more to the growing income gaps in the country than disparities in education, and the impact continues to grow.” … A common choice of allowing widespread school choice is that poor and uneducated parents aren’t capable of making wise selections of schools for their children.
Medicare reform necessary. Wall Street Journal in Republicans and Mediscare: Paul Ryan’s GOP critics are ObamaCare’s best friends: “With ObamaCare, Democrats offered their vision for Medicare cost control: A 15-member unelected board with vast powers to set prices for doctors, hospitals and other providers, and to regulate how they should be organized and what government will pay for. The liberal conceit is that their technocratic wizardry will make health care more rational, but this is faith-based government. The liberal fallback is political rationing of care, which is why Mr. Obama made it so difficult for Congress to change that 15-member board’s decisions. Republicans have staunchly opposed this agenda, but until Mr. Ryan’s budget they hadn’t answered the White House with a competing idea. Mr. Ryan’s proposal is the most important free-market reform in years because it expands the policy options for rethinking the entitlement state.” The unelected board referred to is the Independent Payment Advisory Board. With its mission to reduce spending, some have aid this board is the feared “death panel.”
Science, public agencies, and politics. Cato Institute Senior Fellow Patrick J. Michaels explains the reality of cap-and-trade proposals in this ten minute video. If the Waxman-Markey bill was implemented, world temperature would be reduced by 0.04 degrees. That compares to a forecast increase of 1.584 degrees. If implemented worldwide by the Kyoto nations, the reduction would be 0.08 degrees worldwide. … Michaels says the growth in emissions by China eclipses anything we in America can do. … Michaels echos Dwight Esienhower’s warning that “we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite. The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded.” He goes on to explain some of the dangers of “public choice science.”
Wichita city inspection staffing. Sunday’s Wichita Eagle carries a story detailing problems some southeast Wichita homeowners have with their homes. I’m not sure whether the story is being critical of the city inspection process, so I’ll quote the article: “[Central inspection superintendent Kurt] Schroeder said he can’t say for sure that the city did everything possible to prevent these problems. City inspectors granted building permits and conducted inspections at the houses at various stages of building. But he said the city has no records of final approvals for two houses in the neighborhood. It could be that the inspector signed off but didn’t enter it into the computer system, Schroeder said, but he can’t be sure.” … It’s not as though city inspectors are in short supply. In July, Wichita real estate developer Colby Sandlian spoke to the Wichita Pachyderm Club. As part of his talk, Sandlian said that during the 1950’s, when he started in the real estate business, Wichita was building about 2,600 to 3,000 houses per year, in what he described as some of the nicest neighborhoods in the city. At that time, there were three people in the city’s zoning department, and seven in the building inspection department. Today, Sandlian said Wichita added 1,568 houses in 2007, 1,032 in 2008, and 752 in 2009. Despite the small number of homes being built, staff has swelled: Sandlian said today there are seven in planning (up from three), and 61 in building inspection (up from seven). “Those people, in order to justify their existence, have to find problems with what you’re doing,” he said. But it appears that even with greatly increased numbers, inspectors may not have been looking hard enough, at least in the cases of these southeast Wichita homes.
Kansas Prosperity Summit. This Friday (November 12) FairTaxKS is holding an event designed “to create a collaborative environment to create awareness, express support, offer solution, and launch the passing of the Kansas Jobs Plan 2011.” The main event is from noon to 4:00 pm at the Topeka Performing Arts Center (TPAC), 214 SE 8th Ave., and will feature speakers Kris Kobach (Kansas Secretary of State-Elect), Jonathan Williams (co author of “Rich States, Poor States“, Arlen Siegfreid (Speaker Pro Tem of the Kansas House of Representatives), and Dave Trabert (President, Kansas Policy Institute). An optional morning session will observe a meeting of the Special Committee on Assessment and Taxation. See Kansas Prosperity Summit 2011 for complete details.
Government cheese. “When sales of Domino’s Pizza were lagging, a government agency stepped in with advice: more cheese. This is the same government that, for health reasons, is advising less cheese.” The New York Times continues in While Warning About Fat, U.S. Pushes Cheese Sales: “Domino’s Pizza was hurting early last year. … Then help arrived from an organization called Dairy Management. It teamed up with Domino’s to develop a new line of pizzas with 40 percent more cheese, and proceeded to devise and pay for a $12 million marketing campaign. … Dairy Management, which has made cheese its cause, is not a private business consultant. It is a marketing creation of the United States Department of Agriculture — the same agency at the center of a federal anti-obesity drive that discourages over-consumption of some of the very foods Dairy Management is vigorously promoting.” I’m starting to lose track of the contradictions here: Government promoting the very food it blames for health problems it often ends up paying for, and an agency partly funded by tax funds developing marketing programs for a private firm. When the New York Times complains that something is amiss with a government program, you know it’s really bad.
Kansas budget profiled. John Hanna of Associated Press takes a look at the Kansas budget and issues surrounding. Key facts: For the next budget (fiscal year 2012, which starts July 1, 2011, and is the budget the legislature will work on during the upcoming session), there is no more federal stimulus money. That money was a key part in balancing the last two budgets. The deficit for FY 2012 is projected at $492 million. Tax collections are projected to grow by 4.3 percent in FY 2012. By transferring highway funds and gambling revenues to the general fund, the state could balance the budget without cutting services by much, but there will likely have to be some cuts.
Kansas judicial selection. Foundation Watch, a publication of the Capital Research Center, features an article titled George Soros’s Plan to Seize State High Courts. Kansas is mentioned several times in this article. As readers may remember, Kansas judicial selection gives extreme power to members of the bar, more so than does any other state. The state’s elites — outgoing Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson, newspaper editorial writers, and of course the lawyers — are fine with this undemocratic system. But we should be cautious. The article’s summary is: “In some states supreme court judges are elected by the people. In others the governor appoints judges from a list of recommendations compiled by a commission composed mainly of lawyers. Arguments can be made for either process. But George Soros knows what he wants: appointed supreme court judges recommended by lawyer-driven commissions. Call us knee-jerk, but that may be one good reason why this is not a good idea.”
Kansas state government agencies are headed by a mix of elected and appointed officials. After looking at the websites for agencies headed by elected officials, Kansans would be justified in asking if all are using their agency websites for campaign purposes.
Of the four agencies (other than the governor and lieutenant governor) that are headed by officials who must seek statewide election, all use their agency’s website to get their name and photograph exposed to the public.
While it is important for Kansans to know who is heading state government agencies and how to contact them, there is a distinct difference between the website prominence of agency heads who are elected and those who are appointed. Based on research from earlier this year, only about one-third of the websites for agencies with appointed chief executives feature that person on the front page of the website. For agencies with elected chiefs, all feature the elected official, often prominently.
While adding a photograph or even a video to a website doesn’t appreciably increase the cost of providing the service, this type of self-promotion must be considered a form of campaigning.
The page for the Kansas Secretary of State features a large photo of incumbent Chris Biggs, along with a reproduction of his signature. Under the heading “About Us,” the page promotes his “vision and leadership.” Biggs faces a Republican opponent in the general election.
At the website for Kansas Attorney General, visitors are greeted by the headline “Attorney General Steve Six.” The font page holds a video message from Six and a welcome message. The site carries the message “Copyright 2007 – 2009 Attorney General Steve Six,” which raises the question as to who the website and its content belongs to: Six or the people of Kansas. Six faces a Republican opponent in the general election.
The office of the Kansas Insurance Commission features the large headline “Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger” and her photograph. Praeger is running for re-election this year and defeated her Republican opponent in the primary election. She faces no major party challenger in the general election.
The website for the Kansas State Treasurer features the large headline “Dennis McKinney Kansas State Treasurer” and his photograph. McKinney faces a Republican challenger in the general election.
Appointed cabinet posts
The Kansas Governor’s office identifies 15 cabinet posts. Some of these agencies, like the Department of Revenue and Department of Transportation are quite visible, while some are obscure. With one exception, the heads of these agencies are appointed by the governor. They do not run for re-election.
Each of the 15 cabinet offices has a website. Of these, six have the agency’s commissioner or secretary featured on its front page. One of these six is the lieutenant governor, which differs from the others in that the lieutenant governor is not the head of an agency, and must run for office on a ticket with the gubernatorial candidate.
At the Kansas Department of Revenue, there is no mention of Secretary Joan Wagnon on the agency’s front page. To find a page about her, readers must click on “About” and then on “Secretary of Revenue.”
At the Office of the Kansas Securities Commissioner, there is no mention of Commissioner Marc Wilson on the agency’s front page except his mention in a list of news stories. Wilson was appointed to this office on May 25, with an effective date of June 7.
The Kansas Department of Transportation is one of the state’s most visible agencies. Secretary Deb Miller’s name is not on the agency’s front page except for a mention in a list of news headlines. To get her page, readers must click on “About KDOT,” then “KDOT Leaders,” and then on “Deb Miller.”
At the Kansas Department of Corrections there is a photograph of Secretary Roger Werholtz with a link to his biography page.
At the Kansas Department of Health and Environment there is a photograph of Secretary Roderick L. Bremby near a welcome message at the top of the main page for the agency.
The Kansas Department of Labor agency site makes no mention of Secretary Jim Garner except in a news story near the bottom of the page. Readers must click on the “About Us” link to find a link to Garner’s biography page.
The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS) agency website has no mention of Secretary Don Jordan on its front page. Readers muct click on “Agency Information,” the “Find out more,” and then “Executive Staff” to find mention of Jordan. That page contains just his name and telephone number. Using the agency’s search feature found no biography page for Jordan.
The front page for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks makes no mention of Secretary Mike Hayden. Clicking on “Site map,” then “About KDWP,” and then on “Executive Services” found no mention of Hayden. Using the agency’s search function for “Hayden” found a welcome message from him.
The Adjutant General’s departmental site has a photograph of Maj Gen Tod M. Bunting along with a welcome message on its front page.
The Kansas Department of Aging makes no mention of Secretary Martin Kennedy on its from page. Readrs must click on “About KDOA” and then on “Meet the Secretary” before finding Kennedy’s biography.
At the Kansas Department of Commerce, Secretary Bill Thornton is mentioned on the agency’s front page. Users must click on “About us” before finding a link to Thornton’s biography page.
The Kansas Juvenile Justice Authority agency website features a large photograph of Commissioner J. Russell “Russ” Jennings along with a link to his biography page.
The Kansas Highway Patrol has no mention of Superintendent Colonel Terry Maple on its front page. Users must click on “About the KHP” and then on “Colonel’s Welcome” to find Maple’s photograph along with a welcome message, but no biography.
Lieutenant Governor Troy Findley‘s front page holds his photograph and biography.
The front page for the Kansas Department of Administration makes no mention of Secretary of Administration Duane Goossen. The “Contact Info” page lists many divisions of the agency with contact information and links. The “A – Z Subject Index” does not mention his name.
In debates over public policy, words matter. But readers recognize that words represent the opinion of the writer, and as such can be incorrect, misinformed, or simply stating a preference that the reader may disagree with.
But photographs are different. When presented with a photograph purporting to convey a message, readers (viewers) don’t know if it is real or has been altered.
So when the Community Bridge Blog, a Manhattan-based project, uses a doctored photograph of Republican Kansas Secretary of State Candidate Kris Kobach, readers might be justifiably confused. Is the pasted-in message behind Kobach real, or false?
In this case the photograph is false. It’s a fake. These types of photographic alterations — thought to be funny or amusing by some, especially liberals — have no place in serious public discussion. Even if they’re a staple of MSNBC television commentators.
And when we wonder why good people are reluctant to run for public office, here’s a reason why: they’re likely to be subject to malicious and false attacks such as this.
The author of the post, Christopher E. Renner — at one time a “Linguistically/Culturally Diverse Populations’ Consultant and Teacher Trainer at the Midwest Equity Assistance Center, College of Education, Kansas State University” — ought to apologize to Kobach and the readers of the blog. That’s if he wants to be taken seriously.
Here’s the text of Renner’s post, contained in What Every Kansan Needs to Know about Kris Kobach. While I believe Renner is largely incorrect in his opinion — and his writing could use some proofreading — his written opinions are just that. Readers can choose to agree or not.
The Republican’s nominee for the job of Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, is a well know nativist extremist who makes a living by drafting anti-immigrant laws and, after they are adopted, trains officers to enforce them. If the laws are challenged, he goes to court to defend them. Quite the racket since the laws are always rule unconstitutional and in the mean time he lines his pockets with tax-payer dollars from the legal fees he racks up.
But altered photographs are different from words.
Kansas State Representative Pete DeGraaf has released his personal endorsements for Kansas statewide races and for races around the Wichita area.
DeGraaf is completing his first full term representing District 81 (Mulvane, Belle Plain, Clearwater, and surrounding areas) in the Kansas House. His most important committee assignment is Appropriations.
DeGraaf earns high marks on legislative ratings that reward conservative voting records, so voters looking for conservative candidates to support will want to consider his recommendations.
DeGraaf notes that this list is not inclusive, but focuses on those candidates who have primary election contests. He also said in his message that “Primaries are critical to getting the right people in office. People that I feel will provide the best chance we have of advancing a conservative biblical worldview — fiscally conservative, pro-life, pro-family, and anti-tax.”
He also recommends to “consider reviewing voting records and seeing what others conservatives are saying,” mentioning these sources in particular: Kansans for Life, Americans for Prosperity with its legislative scorecards, the Kansas Economic Freedom Index, and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce.
Following are DeGraaf’s endorsements:
Kansas Governor: Sam Brownback
United States Senate: Todd Tiahrt
United States Congress from the fourth district: Mike Pompeo
United States Congress from the first district: Tim Huelskamp
United States Congress from the second district: Dennis Pyle
Secretary of State: Kris Kobach
Kansas House of Representatives, District 98: James Clendenin
Sumner County Commissioner: Steve Warner (620-488-3119)
Sedgwick County Commissioner: Chuck Warren (316-788-2757)
In Kansas, the deadline to register to vote or to change party affiliation is Monday July 19th. Voters need to register if they have moved or changed names.
According to the Kansas Secretary of State’s office, “Kansas elections are conducted by the counties with oversight by the Secretary of State’s office. Voter registration application (español) forms must be submitted to the county election officer where the applicant lives. You may also register to vote or change your registration information online with a valid Kansas driver’s license.” The link for online registration is here.
In Kansas, the Republican Party primary is closed, meaning that voters must be registered as Republican in order to vote for Republican candidates. The Democratic Party primary, however, is open to voters registered as Democrats or unaffiliated.
Besides selecting candidates for federal offices, 125 Kansas House of Representatives positions, one Kansas Senate position, county commission, and a number of statewide Kansas races such as governor, secretary of state, treasurer, insurance commissioner, and attorney general, voters in the Republican and Democratic parties vote for precinct committeemen and committewomen in this election. Carrying on a quaint tradition, each precinct has both a committeemen and committewomen. That is, if there are candidates, as it is not uncommon for these party positions to go unfilled.
State of the State KS is working with other organizations to help register voters. For more information on these events, see State of the State KS Partners With Groups Across Kansas For Voter Registration Drive in Hays, Topeka and Wichita.
This Friday (June 4) candidate for the Republican party nomination for Kansas Secretary of State Elizabeth “Libby” Ensley will address members and guests of the Wichita Pachyderm Club. Ensley is the Election Commissioner for Shawnee County (Topeka) Kansas.
Ensley and the other Republican candidates recently participated in a forum in Wichita.
All are welcome to attend Wichita Pachyderm Club meetings. The program costs $10, which includes a delicious buffet lunch including salad, soup, two main dishes, and ice tea and coffee. The meeting starts at noon, although it’s recommended to arrive fifteen minutes early to get your lunch before the program starts.
The Wichita Petroleum Club is on the ninth floor of the Bank of America Building at 100 N. Broadway (north side of Douglas between Topeka and Broadway) in Wichita, Kansas (click for a map and directions). You may park in the garage (enter west side of Broadway between Douglas and First Streets) and use the sky walk to enter the Bank of America building. The Petroleum Club will stamp your parking ticket and the fee will be only $1.00. Or, there is usually some metered and free street parking nearby.
Last week’s meeting of the Sedgwick County Republican Party featured a forum with the three candidates seeking the Republican party nomination for Kansas Secretary of State. The candidates and links to their campaign websites are J.R. Claeys, Elizabeth “Libby” Ensley, and Kris Kobach.
During the forum, the different attitudes of the candidates towards the extent of voter fraud in Kansas and the measures that should be taken to combat it — such as photo ID and proof of citizenship — became apparent.
In his opening remarks, Kobach mentioned his role in helping write the recently-past Arizona immigration law. He said during the past 10 years, at both the United States Department of Justice and privately, he’s worked to help cities and states enforce the law. His goal for the next four years, should he be elected Secretary of State, would be to help Kansas restore the rule of law in its elections.
He said the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has a “whole division designed for immigrants’ rights.” He said that the ACLU will be the “first to run into the courtroom if we try to pass a photo ID law in Kansas.” He also mentioned the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) as another group involved in the immigration fight, and it has sued Arizona over its law.
(A photo ID law would require voters to identify themselves with a photo ID, such as a drivers license, when they vote.)
Kobach said that both of these organizations are willing to sell out the rule of law in order to gain political power. Democrats, he said, view illegal aliens as a source of votes, and that is why Democrats always oppose photo ID laws. “In my definition, that is the highest form of corruption. That’s corruption, not for money, but for power.”
Kobach said that he is in favor of a photo ID law. The problem, he said, is making a law stick, as these laws are challenged by the ACLU wherever they are passed. As a constitutional law professor, he believes he can write a bill that will survive a court challenge. He said he’ll defend the law, “because nothing makes my day like a lawsuit against the ACLU.”
Kansas must also prosecute voter fraud, he said. He mentioned a report from the secretary of state’s office where 11 counties in Kansas where voter fraud was reported, but there were no state prosecutions. He said the problem is that when prosecutions are forwarded to the local county attorney, prosecutions do not result because of lack of resources or wrong incentives, and in some cases, lack of political will. He proposes parallel jurisdiction, where either the local county attorney or the Secretary of State could proceed with prosecution.
Claeys, in his opening remarks, said he had worked for the Republican National committee as a fundraiser, as communications director for the National Small Business Association, and CEO of the National Association of Government Contractors. He also served as an election observer in Bolivia and El Salvador. These countries recently implemented voter security measures.
Claeys said that photo ID, besides improving the security of voting, actually streamlines the voting process and reduces the training needed for both voters and election workers.
He said there are 600 statutory duties for the Secretary of State, many having to do with small business. “It is the filing center for the state,” and it is important that businesses be served efficiently and well by that office. Increasing fees and regulations, he added, acts as a tax on business, and he said he will work to keep fees and costs low.
Ensley’s opening remarks told of the importance of the Secretary of State, noting that “every single business in the state of Kansas touches the Secretary of State’s office.” She said she had worked in the Secretary of State’s office for 11 years, and then for 18 years as the Shawnee County Election Commissioner. Because of that, she said she has the endorsement of the last three Kansas Secretaries of State.
She said she has been watchful for election fraud during her years as election commissioner, and has provided the evidence that has resulted in the conviction of 12 election criminals.
She said an important issue to her is military voting, saying that these voters do not have the same rights as local voters. They are not allowed to vote for precinct committee officials or for local ballot questions, for example. She said this needs to be changed.
Questioning from the audience included a question whether the candidates would pledge to support whoever wins the August primary election. All answered yes.
Another question mentioned nursing homes, where it was alleged by the questioner that voting fraud is taking place. Kobach said that the “stories are legion” about what happens in nursing homes. He said this type of voter fraud is difficult to detect. But once someone is prosecuted, this will discourage others from contemplating this type of voter fraud.
Ensley suggested that any suspected voter fraud be reported to local officials. She mentioned a recent Kansas law that allows election officials to work with nursing homes to delver ballots directly to voters, and assist them with voting if requested.
Claeys agreed that prosecutions would serve as a deterrent to others.
One questioner noted that several recent holders of the Secretary of State’s office have run for, or aspired to run for, Kansas governor. Do you have political ambitions beyond Secretary of State? Claeys and Ensley answered no. Kobach answered that the future is difficult to predict, but that he probably would not occupy that office for 16 years, as Ron Thornburgh would have if he served out his last term.
In my question, I asked about the claim of the Wichita Eagle’s Rhonda Holman, based on evidence from then-Secretary of State Thornburgh, that voter fraud in Kansas is not a significant problem.
Kobach said that there is voter fraud, it is a problem, and he doesn’t know why Holman doesn’t believe it is a problem.
Ensley said that Kobach is referring to alleged voter fraud. She said she’s done statistical research on aliens registering to vote. She identified the six counties in Kansas that are required to do bilingual ballots and asked these county clerks — these are the election officials in these counties — about the situation in their county. She said that each clerk said that they watch out for illegal registrations and voting, but that it is not a significant problem in their counties.
She said she compared the proportion of the population that is registered to vote statewide with the same figure in these six counties. If a large number of ineligible registrations was a problem, these counties should have a higher than average number. She found that these counties had a lower proportion of registered voters than the stateside average, which lead her to believe that registration and voting by aliens is not a problem.
She said that having to prove citizenship in order to vote would lead to lower voter turnout by eligible voters, and she is not in favor of requirements to prove citizenship. Displaying her tattered birth certificate, she described how it would be difficult for many citizens to obtain their birth certificate in order to prove they are citizens and eligible to vote. Her contention that requirements to prove citizenship creates more barriers to Americans than it prevents aliens from registering to vote was greeted with disapproval from the audience.
Claeys mentioned the Arizona voter law — which he said he favors — which requires proof of citizenship, with several ways to provide proof. He added that even a small amount of voter fraud is important. “Anytime someone votes who’s not supposed to be, they’re taking your vote away.”
Kobach added that courts have not agreed that requirements to produce citizenship documents such as birth certificates are too much of a burden. He added that these requirements apply to only newly-registered voters, not currently registered voters. He also produced several reasons as to why Ensley’s survey of voter registration rates in counties may not be valid.
Later questioning brought out a distinction between “voter ID” and “photo ID.” Voter ID can take many forms, such as a utility bill showing a voter’s name and address. Kobach and Claeys are in favor of requiring a state-issued photo ID, while Ensley said voter ID is sufficient.
Some in the audience asked questions that showed they believed a photo ID was more secure than other forms of ID, but Ensley pointed to easy availability of fake IDs, both photo and other.
Eagle editorialist Holman’s op-ed from last May contained this statement: “Fraudulent voting, particularly by an illegal immigrant, makes no sense, because there is little to nothing to gain by the individual voter — while the potential punishment is severe.” (“Beware of claims of voter fraud,” May 28, 2009 Wichita Eagle)
This curious claim by Holman — that there is little to gain by individuals when they vote– might make anyone wonder why they should make an effort to vote.