Kansas, how embarrassing. We’re only the ninth-hardest state in which to vote? Given all the energy that’s gone into making casting a ballot as difficult as possible here, this is hardly an impressive showing.
We not only let the likes of Mississippi and Tennessee get ahead of us in this regard — behind us, really, unless you remember that up is down. Turns out, even Indiana and Ohio have stocked their moats with more alligators, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Northern Illinois.
Kansas’ one clear slip-up was allowing early voting, unlike in Missouri, where who knows how many people who try to vote give up if the lines are too long on Election Day.
Otherwise, Kansas gets consistently high marks for building all kinds of little walls around its voting booths.
Much of the credit for this lack of access goes to Secretary of State and GOP gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach. But then, his Democratic rival, state Sen. Laura Kelly, also voted for Kobach’s voter ID law, key provisions of which were ruled unconstitutional.
Kobach showed his commitment to this suppressive exercise by getting himself held in contempt for failing to comply with the direct order of a federal judge to fully register the thousands of Kansas voters who had registered at the DMV but had not provided proof of citizenship.
Of course, there’s no same-day registration in Kansas, where registration closes a highly effective 21 days before Election Day.
There’s no automatic voter registration, either, though the opt-out rather than opt-in system that 13 states and the District of Columbia now use not only increases registration rates but also cleans up voter rolls and saves money.
This new study was based on the 2016 election. This year’s relocation of the only polling place in Dodge City, where 60 percent of the population is Hispanic, to a place outside Dodge City, more than a mile from the nearest bus stop, will surely make Kansas even more of a standout next time.
Still, there will be competition. There have been massive purges of legal voters in Georgia, where Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp is, like Kobach, overseeing his own election.
And let’s not underestimate North Dakota, where a new law requires that every voter has a street address on his or her voter ID — in a state where Native Americans living on reservations do not have street addresses.
To stay near the bottom of the pack in access to the basis of all democracy, Kansas can’t afford to get complacent.
Kansas City Star