Kansas Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh (left) was quoted in the Kansas City Star yesterday that “we threw a party, and nobody came” about no voters showing up to vote at Fort Riley precincts in Tuesday’s primary election.
Geary County Clerk Rebecca Bossemeyer was quoted in the Topeka Capital-Journal that this “isn’t unusual in a primary election.”
“Out of 569 registered voters living at Fort Riley, none – zero – cast a ballot on the post Tuesday in Geary County, either by going to a polling place or by advance or absentee ballot.”
But there’s a bigger story here, about problems in Kansas’ voter registration records.
According to the KC Star Buzzblog last week, a federal appeals court ordered a federal judge to take another look at whether the state of Missouri was properly purging voter rolls in the state’s counties and cities.
In April of last year [Judge] Laughrey said the state [of Missouri] had made a “reasonable effort” to try and clean up voter registration rolls. In some counties, the government claimed, there were more registrants than people.
But in its ruling, the appeals court said it wants the judge to reconsider whether the state could do more to encourage local election authorities to clean up the rolls
Kansas also has many voters on its voter rolls that should have been purged, but Secretary of State Thornburgh and local election offices are not taking their responsibility seriously in keeping lists accurate — such as the Fort Riley voters discussed in yesterday’s new story.
Based on newspaper stories, the 14 precincts of Fort Riley voters in Geary County were selected from a file of registered voters obtained from the Secretary of State in early July 2008. 571 voters were identified, which is quite close to the 569 reported by the Topeka Capital-Journal.
One of the fields in this voter list shows a voter’s “status” as “active” or “inactive”. But this field is really misnamed and should be called “Valid address” and “Invalid address.”
When an election office mails a voter a registration card and the post office returns the mailing, election offices mark a voter as “inactive” to indicate the mailing address is not valid. Of the 571 voters in these 14 Geary County, Fort Riley precincts, 244 were “Inactive” or had invalid addresses — this is about 43% of the voters, as shown in the table below.
Table 1. Active/Inactive Status of GE County, Fort Riley Voters by Precinct
However, federal law does NOT allow an election authority to remove a voter simply because a mailing address is invalid. A vote must miss the last two presidential elections before they can be remove.
The voter list provided by the Kansas Secretary of State shows the history of the last 10 ballots cast by a voter. The table below shows the “Last Vote Year” for these Fort Riley voters:
Table 2. Last Vote Year for GE County, Fort Riley Voters by Precinct
Last Vote Year
In the table above, the 24 who last voted in 1996 or 1998 (22+2) could be removed from the voting rolls in compliance with federal law.
Of the 379 voters who had never voted, 194 voted in the last 8 years, but 185 hadn’t voted in 9 – 20 years based on their registration dates. In compliance with federal law, 24+185=209 of these 571 voters could have been removed from the list. This represents 37% of all voters.
Do we need a federal judge to tell Secretary of State Thornburgh, Geary County Clerk Bossemeyer, and other county clerks and election commissioners to clean up the Kansas voting lists? I believe we do.
A voter ID would eliminate much of the possibility of fraud among the 190,000 phantom voters in Kansas, yet Gov. Sebelius vetoed that bill on May 19?
- Sebelius vetoes bill requiring a photo ID to vote, Lawrence Journal-World, May 19, 2008.
- Kansas May Have About 190,000 Phantom Voters: Could Voter Fraud in Kansas Be Relatively Easy?, Kansas Meadowlark, Jan 13, 2008.
- Can Google Street Views Be Used to Find Registered Voters at Empty Lots in Wyandotte County?, Kansas Meadowlark, Feb 21, 2008.