The state of Kansas will now not only look at signatures, but also check with voters to determine intent before throwing out ballots under a new law signed by Gov. Laura Kelly last week. An activist whose challenge to the Republican gubernatorial primary result brought light to the issue is pleased with the new legislation.
“The issue of signature mismatch and then throwing out hundreds and really thousands of ballots over the last several years have casted a doubt on the legitimacy and the safety of casting a mail ballot,” said Davis Hammet with Loud Light. “What’s really great about SB 130 that just passed is it means that anyone knows that if anyone working at an election site thinks that your signature is mismatched, before they can throw out a ballot, they’re going to have to contact you and ask you if you meant to sign it and then give you the opportunity to fix any issue with your mail ballot.”
With the Kansas population continuing to age and older voters sometimes having more challenges in getting to the polls, but still wanting to exercise their voting rights, this legislation will help everyone’s voice to be heard in the state.
Even for hyper-partisan people, this is a big win,” said Hammet. “This is about the candidate who gets the most votes, in whatever election it is. If it’s a non-partisan local election, if it’s a party primary, or if it’s a statewide general, just the person who gets the most votes should win and we should do the best we can at counting every vote.”
There was some pressure from outside forces to get something passed this session.
“The state was likely about to get sued,” said Hammet. “This practice was illegal. Now, instead of the state having to go through the court system and be found to unconstitutionally be throwing out ballots, we had a situation where the Legislature came together and passed a bipartisan bill. It had almost unanimous support. That was a really good, proactive thing for the state to do.”
House Substitute for Senate Bill 130 will also give county election officials the discretion to allow all registered voters to cast their ballot at any polling place in their county on election day.