As counties in Kansas continue to report new numbers in the Republican gubernatorial race, I look into the debate concerning unaffiliated votes.
Before the canvassing process started today, the Secretary of State’s office and the Governor’s office weighed in on how counties should count unaffiliated ballots.
Kansas doesn’t have open primaries so you have to affiliated with a party in order to vote. But if you’re unaffiliated you can still vote, but you have fill out and sign a form declaring a party at the polls in order to receive that party’s ballot.
Governor Colyer’s campaign has expressed concerns over unaffiliated voters being given provisional ballots instead of regular ballots on election night. A law professor I spoke with said the Kansas law is clear on unaffiliated voters, but says it’s kind of a gray area when it comes to provisional ballots.
“The Kansas Constitution favors voter enfranchisement allowing them to vote rather than not allowing them to vote if you can determine what their intent was and obviously if you cast a provisional ballot in a Republican primary, your intent was to declare that you are a Republican primary voter,” says Jeffrey Jackson, Washburn Law Professor.
In Johnson County today 57 unaffiliated votes were counted, but 35 unaffiliated ballots thrown out because they didn’t include a completed party affiliation form. The director of elections tells me it’s ultimately up to the counties if a ballot counts or doesn’t count.