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.
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 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.”
Moran at Wichita Pachyderm: This Friday’s speaker at the Wichita Pachyderm Club is current United States Representative and Republican Party Senate nominee Jerry Moran. As a large audience is expected, please arrive by 11:45 to get your buffet lunch in time for the noon start (the larger meeting room will be used). Cost is $10, which includes lunch.
Wichita, get control of incentives: Rhonda Holman’s lead editorial in yesterday’s Wichita Eagle urged caution and restraint in Wichita’s use of tax incentives — a welcome message not expected from the Eagle. One conservative wrote to me: “I am stunned to find myself to be largely in agreement with today’s editorial by Rhonda Holman. Wow.” The editorial was critical of past city policy and practice, with Holman referring to special taxing districts as “tax tricks.” On the need for public investment in downtown, she wrote “the city must ensure its use of special taxing districts is strategic, fair, farsighted and defensible.” Whether our present political and bureaucratic leadership can accomplish this is, in my opinion, unlikely.
Rasmussen key polls from last week: California Senate moves from “leans Democrat” to “toss-up” … Most Americans feel Nobel prizes are political … Harry Reid’s son trails in race for Nevada governor … Cyber bullying seen equally dangerous as physical bullying.
Kansas initiative and referendum: The Wichita Eagle takes a look at initiative and referendum. A focus of the article is Secretary of State candidates Chris Biggs and Kris Kobach, which is a little misplaced, as they don’t have a say in whether Kansas has I&R, although they would administer the process and Kobach has made it a campaign issue. Key takeaways: “States with initiatives spend and tax less than states without them.” Politicians of both stripes hate I&R, with Kansas Senate President Steve Morris — a big-spending, big-taxing, liberal Republican — hating the idea, according to the article. Same for Speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives Mike O’Neil, a conservative. Not reported in the article is one of the first things the people may do in states that have I&R: impose term limits on their elected officials, an idea most of the political class hates.
China Emerges as a Scapegoat in Campaign Ads: The New York Times reports: “With many Americans seized by anxiety about the country’s economic decline, candidates from both political parties have suddenly found a new villain to run against: China. … Democrats and Republicans are blaming one another for allowing the export of jobs to its economic rival.” Kansas fourth district Congressional hopeful Democrat Raj Goyle is mentioned as one of 29 candidates using China as a foil in campaign ads, just in case you thought Goyle’s attacks were novel. But the issue is murky, as the Times notes: “Never mind that there is hardly any consensus as to what exactly constitutes outsourcing and how many of the new overseas jobs would have stayed in American hands.”
Regulation — Baptists and Bootleggers: “Here is the essence of the theory: durable social regulation evolves when it is demanded by both of two distinctly different groups. ‘Baptists’ point to the moral high ground and give vital and vocal endorsement of laudable public benefits promised by a desired regulation. Baptists flourish when their moral message forms a visible foundation for political action. ‘Bootleggers’ are much less visible but no less vital. Bootleggers, who expect to profit from the very regulatory restrictions desired by Baptists, grease the political machinery with some of their expected proceeds. They are simply in it for the money. The theory’s name draws on colorful tales of states’ efforts to regulate alcoholic beverages by banning Sunday sales at legal outlets. Baptists fervently endorsed such actions on moral grounds. Bootleggers tolerated the actions gleefully because their effect was to limit competition.” From Bruce Yandle, Bootleggers and Baptists in Retrospect. A podcast on the topic is Bruce Yandle on Bootleggers and Baptists.
Obama fails education: From Three Reasons Obama’s Education Vision Fails at Reason: “While he brags constantly about his Race to the Top initiative, in which states competed for $4 billion to fund innovative programs, he’s spent more than $80 billion in no-strings-attached stimulus funds to maintain the educational status quo.” Obama also killed a school choice program in Washington, and has snuggled up to the teachers unions with a stimulus bill to preserve and add union teacher jobs “despite the fact that there are already more teachers per student than ever.” The status quo describes outgoing Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson and his education “vision.” Not that presumptive incoming governor Sam Brownback is a radical on school reform, however. His education plans are quite tepid and not likely to produce the results Kansas schoolchildren need.
Wichita Eagle Opinion Line: “If Kansans want lower taxes and less government, why are there so many homeowners’ associations here?” I guess the distinction between government and voluntary action escapes this person.
Following is an op-ed by Paul Jacob that recently appeared in the Wichita Eagle, although this is the version he sent to me. Jacob is president of Citizens in Charge Foundation, a national organization that promotes the rights of initiative and referendum. The citizens of Kansas enjoy neither of these.
Fort Hays State University Professor Chapman Rackaway is entitled to his opinion that “Voter initiative sounds good but is bad idea” (September 14 Wichita Eagle), but not to make up his own facts to buttress this viewpoint.
Rackaway uses inaccurate claims about California’s initiative process to argue against Republican Secretary of State candidate Kris Kobach’s popular proposal to allow Kansans to petition issues onto the ballot for a statewide vote.
It’s instructive that the professor focuses on far away California, ignoring the states surrounding Kansas — Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma — all with voter initiatives. Note that a recent state ranking by the American Legislative Exchange Council placed all four neighboring initiative states ahead of Kansas for economic performance from 1998-2008.
Still, Rackaway’s assertions about California are not true. For instance, the professor states, “A typical ballot there has 50 or more initiatives…” The most initiatives ever on a single California statewide ballot? Seventeen. Back in 1914.
Professor Rackaway contends that, “Initiatives have marginalized that state legislature’s ability to budget …” But even the California Legislative Analyst’s Office concluded recently that “the legislature maintains considerable control over the state budget.”
Rackaway also cites several “silly initiatives” that are on this year’s California ballot. The only problem being that none of the initiatives mentioned by the professor are actually on the ballot. Oops!
“If we had 75 percent voter turnout and an electorate committed to informed participation,” wrote Rackaway, “the initiative would be a worthwhile proposal.” But in his view, Kansans currently aren’t up to the job of making decisions.
Both factually and otherwise, the esteemed professor is sorely mistaken. Kansans deserve the right to vote on the issues that affect their lives, especially on reforms like term limits opposed by self-serving politicians. Thank goodness Mr. Kobach is standing up for the average citizen.
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.
The big message of the night, he writes, is this: “[Jerry] Moran’s win in the Senate primary suggests that the Kansas GOP prefers a more centrist message. But Moran’s win was an anomaly. Kobach, Pompeo, Brownback, and Huelskamp suggest that the state has taken a turn to the right.”
At National Review Online, Denis Boyles, author of the insightful book — despite its name — on Kansas politics Superior, Nebraska: The Common Sense Values of America’s Heartland, contributes (Mostly) Good News from Kansas. he starts by laying out the essential facts of the Kansas political landscape: “In Kansas, local politics is often made confusing by the powerful presence of very liberal RINOs [Republicans In Name Only]. They constitute a third party, and their half-century of influence has done some nasty work, most recently insuring the victory, twice, of Kathleen Sebelius.”
Boyles is enthusiastic about the first Congressional district result: “But for people who like their conservatism straight up — no glass, no ice — the best news may be the victory of state Sen. Tim Huelskamp.”
About the fourth district, Boyles wrote: “In Tiahrt’s district, a very liberal Democrat named Raj Goyle will spend a lot of his own money to try to defeat the GOP’s Mike Pompeo, a local businessman with a military career (he graduated first in his class at West Point) behind him. The Wichita newspaper, a McClatchy thing, has always been loyal to Goyle. Fortunately, fewer and fewer readers will notice.”
But for the Kansas statehouse, the picture is not as bright. He presents a message he received from an unnamed Kansas legislator, who wrote: “Overall though, I am very disappointed … we did not change the left-wing Republican margin in the House.”
Boyles concluded: “It’s true that the state senate and the house are both at the mercy of liberal Republicans. RINOs really do tear up the landscape.”
For results of statewide races and other state offices, click on 2010 unofficial primary election results at Kansas Secretary of State.