Posts tagged with 2010 Elections

Moran, Brownback declare victory in statewide races

Fewer than 10 percent of precincts statewide are reporting results, but already two huge prizes have been claimed in Tuesday’s elections. U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Hays, already has declared victory in his race for the U.S. Senate and U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Topeka, won an early concession from the Democratic nominee in the run for the governor’s mansion.

With 276 of 3,315 precincts reporting, Moran was well ahead of his main rival, Democrat Lisa Johnston, a Baker University administrator, 114,827 to 47,850 votes. With 258 of the 3,315 precincts reporting, Brownback was easily holding off State Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, 102,869 to 57,358 votes.

Holland, who estimated his campaign would be outspent by Brownback nearly 4:1, congratulated the governor-elect. Holland, noting Brownback's longstanding fight for human rights in Darfur and North Korea, he was sure Brownback would show the same "compassion for Kansans in need."

Republicans were leading in all statewide races, including Kris Kobach in the secretary of state balloting, Derek Schmidt in the attorney general balloting and Ron Estest, who is seeking to unseat incumbent State Treasurer Dennis McKinney.

Holland dismissed the idea that it was simply a bad night to be a Democrat, saying "while our candidacy did not win, our cause will always endure. Our work will go on. Our party will move forward."

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Polling stations still seeing steady stream of voters

As of 12:30 p.m., the three De Soto polling locations were still reporting steady streams of voters and much higher numbers than were seen in the August primaries. "Compared to what we saw in August, we're ahead of schedule. Right now we've seen about 205 voters and in August we saw 262 the entire day," said Community Center supervising judge David Wayne.

The De Soto VFW Post #6654 also saw a substantial increase in voters.

"I don't think we've slowed down since we opened," said supervising judge Christine Peterson. "In August we ended the day at about 400 and we're already over 300."

Voter turn-out at the De Soto Methodist church is also increased, although part of that may be due to advanced ballots.

"We had about 25 percent of our voters turn in advance ballots," said supervising judge Joe Vankempen. "But even with that we've seen a steady stream of voters. We're at about 202 right now."

Polls are open until 7 p.m. Check back to the Explorer for more results as they become available.

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Early voter turn-out strong for De Soto

Mike and Nancy O'Connor cast their ballots for the mid-term election on the electronic polls at the De Soto Community Center on Tuesday, Nov. 2. "We always vote together and usually almost the same," said Nancy O'Connor.

Mike and Nancy O'Connor cast their ballots for the mid-term election on the electronic polls at the De Soto Community Center on Tuesday, Nov. 2. "We always vote together and usually almost the same," said Nancy O'Connor. by Laura Herring

The early turn-out of De Soto voters was strong, according to supervising election judges at both of De Soto's polling locations. "We've had a very strong start," said Christine Peterson, the supervising judge at the De Soto VFW. "It's been a very steady stream of voters all morning, we've even had a line several times."

The VFW is serving more voters in this mid-term election than it did in the August primary because the polling station at the De Soto Methodist church closed, giving the VFW more precincts to serve.

Despite having to wait in line, few voters left without submitting their ballot.

"I think it really helps that we have a nice, indoor space for people to wait," Peterson said. "No one has to stand outside in the cold so everyone's being very patient."

The De Soto Community Center also saw a strong early turn-out.

"There was a large turn-out right off the bat, I'd say at least 70-80 by now (9:30 a.m.)," said supervising judge David Wayne. "Certainly more than I expected for a mid-term election."

Polls are open until 7 p.m. If you are unsure of your polling location, you can look it up at www.jocoelection.org. Check back to the Explorer throughout the day for more coverage of the election.

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Controversy nominal over proposed constitutional amendments

The last time Kansas voters changed the state constitution was in 2005 when they approved an amendment that said marriage shall be between one man and one woman. Nothing that controversial appears on today’s ballot.

But there are two proposed amendments before voters.

The first one deals with the rights of gun owners, and the second one removes a provision that would allow the Legislature to deny the right to vote to people with mental illness.

Kansans have been owning guns for generations, but supporters of the proposition say it is necessary to clarify a 1905 Kansas Supreme Court ruling, which they say can be interpreted to mean that the right to keep and bear arms is a collective right for militias. The proposed amendment would establish that Kansans have an individual right to own a gun.

If approved by voters, the Kansas Constitution would read:

“A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and state, for lawful hunting and recreational use, and for any other lawful purpose.”

The second proposal is needed, supporters say, because the current Kansas Constitution stigmatizes people with mental illness.

The state constitution now says that the Legislature has the authority to prohibit people with mental illness from voting. The Legislature has never tried to approve a law that would do this, but mental health advocates say the language in the constitution needs to be stricken.

“Two of four presidents carved on Mount Rushmore — Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt — struggled with mental illness,” said Mike Fitzpatrick, national director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “No one has ever suggested that they should have been denied the right to vote.”

Supporters of the amendment say the term mental illness is too broad and could extend to people who simply suffer from depression or attention deficit disorder.

“If we live long enough, it is foreseeable that each of us could acquire some mental health issue,” said Dr. Roy Menninger, who is chairman of the Kansas Mental Health Coalition.

There has been no organized opposition to the amendment, and it has been endorsed by Republican and Democratic candidates for governor.

Still, mental health advocates, worried about what voters will think because of misperceptions about mental illness, launched a statewide campaign to educate the public about the measure and urge support.

By Scott Rothschild

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Polls are open for Election Day

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It’s Election Day in Kansas, with voters deciding contests several federal, state and local contests. Polling places will remain open until 7 p.m.

Highlighting the ballot are the Kansas governor’s race, which pits heavily favored Republican Sam Brownback against Baldwin City Democrat Tom Holland, Libertarian Andrew Gray and Ken Cannon of the Reform Party.

Kansas voters also will be selecting a new U.S. senator to replace Brownback, who is stepping down after 12 years in the post. The race features Republican Jerry Moran and Democrat Lisa Johnston. Congressional representatives also are on the ballot.

Locally, voters will help select a successor to U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, who is retiring. Moore’s wife, Stephene, is the Democratic nominee for the seat and is facing strong opposition from Overland Park Republican Kevin Yoder.

Voters also will select a slate of other state officials, including state treasurer, attorney general, insurance commissioner and secretary of state. The entire 125-member Kansas House of Representatives is up for election today.

Several state Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and District Court judges also are up for retention on today’s ballot, as are two proposed state constitutional amendments.

Johnson County voters also will be electing a chairman for the Johnson County Commission.

Once polls close, check back here as results are updated throughout the night and into the early morning Wednesday.

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Methodist church to host annual Election Night Dinner

The De Soto Methodist church will be hosting its annual Election Night Dinner on Tuesday, Nov. 2, from 5:30-7 p.m. Meals may be eaten at the church or carried-out and include turkey-brisket meatballs and sides. For adults, the cost is $10 per plate and children aged 12-4 are $4.50 per plate. Children aged 3 and under eat free.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and are open until 7 p.m. If you are unsure of your polling location, you can find out at the Johnson County Election website.

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Extent of voter fraud at center of secretary of state debate

Kansas Secretary of State Chris Biggs, a Democrat, and his Republican challenger, Kris Kobach, clashed over the issue of voter fraud Saturday during a debate. The two candidates, engaged in a heated battle before Tuesday's election, spoke before about 80 people at a forum hosted by the Kansas League of Women Voters.

Kobach has made allegations of widespread voter fraud in Kansas the foundation of his campaign, and is pushing for laws that would require a photo ID to vote and proof of citizenship to register to vote.

"There is a serious problem of voter fraud in Kansas," Kobach said.

Biggs said the facts don't support Kobach's claim.

"He has been loose with the facts, he has been misrepresenting statistics, and on some he has just been plain wrong," Biggs said.

Biggs hammered Kobach for alleging there were 1,966 dead Kansans on the voter registration rolls, and for Kobach, at a news conference on Thursday, singling out the name of a voter -- Alfred K. Brewer of Wichita -- as a possible example of someone who had died in 1996 but voted in 2010. It turned out Brewer is alive and an active voter.

Biggs said the allegation by Kobach was part of an established pattern of Kobach being "sloppy" with facts.

Kobach read from a secretary of state's office memo that outlined 75 allegations of voter irregularities. If the problems continue to increase, Kobach said, "You will see `I voted' stickers on tombstones."

Biggs said Kobach was taking the memo out of context. Those 75 instances occurred over a 10-year period. As a former Geary County prosecutor, Biggs said he prosecuted 20,000 cases, which included one for voter fraud.

He said Kobach was using fear tactics in combining his advocacy against illegal immigration with voter fraud. Kobach, an attorney, has worked with numerous states and cities on controversial immigration laws, including Arizona.

"Immigration is his deal, bless his heart," Biggs said. "But his heart is not here in Kansas."

Kobach said requiring a photo ID to vote would solve fraud problems and make elections run more efficiently. He said only the "radical fringe" opposes a photo ID law.

But Biggs said the problem with photo ID is it provides obstacles to voting for some segments of the population, such as the elderly and those with disabilities.

Kobach criticized Biggs over a recent television ad that provides information about advance voting and then shows a picture of Biggs.

He said Biggs' image shouldn't have been used in a taxpayer-funded ad this close to the election.

"This is an abuse of power," Kobach said.

Biggs responded that the ad was standard fare for officeholders and there was nothing inappropriate.

During the debate, Biggs also mentioned a complaint filed against Kobach by the Kansas Democratic Party that alleges Kobach violated the state's campaign finance laws by taking several donations over the legal limit. Kobach denied the allegation, but said there were some problems with "typos" in his campaign finance report that, he said, were being corrected. Kobach said filing campaign finance reports was a "very complicated process."

By Scott Rothschild

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Nearly half of Kansas’ registered voters expected to participate in election

Less than half of Kansas’ registered voters are expected to cast ballots in Tuesday’s general election. Secretary of State Chris Biggs predicted a 47.5 percent statewide turnout, or 820,000 of Kansas’ 1.7 million registered voters.

Turnout for the 2006 and 2002 midterm elections was 52 percent, and it was 50 percent in 1998, the office reported.

As of Friday morning, 191,083 advance ballots had been mailed to voters and 126,119 had been returned and 53,284 had been cast at satellite voting locations.

The Missouri secretary of state predicted a 51 percent turnout in that state, prompting Biggs to challenge Kansas voters to try to exceed that prediction.

Election Day is Tuesday. Advance voting in person ends noon Monday.

By Scott Rothschild

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Republicans predicting election sweep over Democrats

Kansas Republican officials on Thursday were predicting a "clean sweep" in statewide races on Election Day and big GOP gains nationally in Congress. Starting their second day of a 4-day bus tour, Republican candidates took swipes at their Democratic opponents and President Barack Obama.

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., who is not on the ballot but declared himself "sheriff of the young gun posse," said the nation was rejecting Obama's policies.

"We are going to reverse this ideological rush to European socialism," Roberts said.

He said Republicans will overhaul the new federal health care law that Obama signed. "This isn't the end of it," Roberts said of the health law. "It is just the beginning" he said.

U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, whose district includes western Lawrence, said that under Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., "Things are now a full-blown disaster."

She added, "If 2008 was the year of Obama then 2010 will be the year of the American people." Jenkins faces Democrat Cheryl Hudspeth in the 2nd District race.

Anticipating big Republican gains in Congress, Roberts said he hoped that Obama would reach out more to Republicans.

Also speaking at the rally were Republican gubernatorial candidate Sam Brownback, a U.S. senator, who faces Democrat Tom Holland, a state senator from Baldwin City; Attorney General candidate Derek Schmidt, who is challenging Attorney General Steve Six; Kris Kobach, who is running against Secretary of State Chris Biggs; and State Treasurer candidate Ron Estes, who faces Treasurer Dennis McKinney.

Kansas Republican Party Chair Amanda Adkins said that so far, of 137,000 advance votes, 57 percent are registered Republicans and 30 percent are Democrats.

"Republicans are turning out in droves," she said.

The GOP bus tour was going to make several stops in southeast Kansas and then overnight in Winfield.

By Scott Rothschild

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Kansas GOP candidates like proof of citizenship requirement, but court says no in Arizona

Republican candidates Sam Brownback and Kris Kobach have said they want a law in Kansas that would require proof of citizenship to register to vote. But such an effort may face legal problems.

Earlier this week, such a law in Arizona was tossed by a three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The panel, however, did uphold a requirement that voters provide ID when voting. The same court next week will consider parts of Senate Bill 1070, the controversial Arizona immigration law that Kobach co-wrote.

On the issue of requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote, the court ruled that the Arizona law conflicted with the federal National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

That act established a uniform registration form that requires applicants to swear they are citizens under penalty of perjury.

In 2004, Arizona voters approved Proposition 200 a separate state registration form that requires proof of citizenship.

But voting rights and Hispanic groups said the law created barriers to voting, especially for new citizens. They claimed thousands of Arizona voters had their registrations rejected because they didn’t provide the documents required by the state.

The appeals court panel — which included former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who heard the case as a temporary appeals judge — agreed with the plaintiffs.

“It is indisputable that by requiring documentary proof of citizenship, Proposition 200 creates an additional state hurdle to registration,” their ruling said.

Supporters of the law said it ensured only eligible voters cast ballots in elections, and they promised to appeal the ruling.

Brownback, who is running for Kansas governor, and Kobach, who’s running for secretary of state, have said requiring proof of citizenship would be good for Kansas’ election system.

“This will help reduce instances of voter fraud,” Brownback said.

Brownback’s opponent, Democrat Tom Holland, and Kobach’s opponent, Democratic Secretary of State Chris Biggs, have been critical of the Republicans’ positions on voter requirements. Both Republicans also support requiring Kansans to show a photo ID to vote.

“This is a solution in search of a problem,” said Holland. “The largest threat to the integrity of our elections would be career politicians placing additional – and expensive - barriers between voters and the ballot box. This burden would be especially hard on the elderly, the poor and the disabled,” he said.

Biggs has said there are few voting irregularities in Kansas elections, and Kobach is simply creating an issue where there is none. But Kobach has said it is a real problem, and has also vowed, if elected, to expand the prosecutorial powers of the secretary of state’s office.

Next week, the federal appeals court will take up Arizona’s appeal of a lower court ruling that prevented parts of Senate Bill 1070 from taking effect. The bill, which Kobach was instrumental in forming, requires local law enforcement to seek proof of citizenship from people they suspect of being in the country illegally.

By Scott Rothschild

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