Judge: Kansas’ Largest County Violated Law By Not Specifying Rejected Ballots

View of a banner outside the Lyon County Courthouse showing citizens that they can vote early at the location, Emporia, Kansas, October 30, 2018. (Photo by Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images)
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A judge has ruled that election officials in Kansas’ largest county violated open records law by refusing to provide names of hundreds of people whose provisional ballots were not counted in last August’s primary.

Davis Hammet, president of Loud Light, asked for the names of 898 people whose ballots were thrown out and for justification on why they didn’t count. Johnson County election commissioner Ronnie Metsker rejected Hammet’s request, prompting the American Civil Liberties Union to join Hammet in a lawsuit.

District Judge David Hauber ruled in Hammet’s favor on Thursday, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Metzger didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment on the ruling.

“Now elections officials know that whenever they throw out a ballot people will know, and so they need to be really strict about standards,” Hammet said.

Hammet said the suburban Kansas City county didn’t try to notify people before rejecting their ballots, which were dismissed without knowledge of the voters’ party affiliation or how they voted. He said he plans to notify people that their votes didn’t count and those people could consider pursuing a legal challenge.

Of the 898 ballots dismissed for a variety of reasons, 153 were rejected under a state law that requires the signature on an advanced ballot to exactly match the signature on file from when the person registered to vote.

The signature matching law was introduced in Kansas by former Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The ACLU has successfully challenged similar laws elsewhere.

Kobach, who appointed Metsker to oversee Johnson County elections, defeated Gov. Jeff Colyer by 343 votes in the August primary race for the GOP nomination for governor.

Lauren Bonds, interim executive director for ACLU Kansas, said people should know whether their vote counted.

“Voting rights advocates now have the information they need to ensure election integrity and help provisional voters make sure their ballots count,” Bonds said.

Latest News

Notable Replies

  1. There is no discernible end to Republican efforts to suppress legitimate votes. And there is no end their efforts to hide it where ever they can.

  2. Avatar for tsp tsp says:

    Something similar happened in Sedgwick County in '14, as well. That race cost Paul Davis (D) his seat as Governor.

  3. “Your honor, we felt no compulsion to count votes cast for Democratic candidates.”

  4. Kansas’ largest county violated open records law

    Kris Kobach, please pick up the red voter fraud emergency phone.

  5. Avatar for paulw paulw says:

    So now the next question: will they obey the law and release the names to inform people that their votes weren’t counted, or will they keep stonewalling.

Continue the discussion at forums.talkingpointsmemo.com

9 more replies


Avatar for system1 Avatar for paulw Avatar for commiedearest Avatar for hippocritic Avatar for quitty Avatar for megsilvern Avatar for mrf Avatar for georgemilquetoast Avatar for tsp Avatar for jsjohnson41 Avatar for coimmigrant Avatar for dannydorko Avatar for evave2 Avatar for captain_america

Continue Discussion
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: