Johnson County’s treatment of mail-in ballots, unaffiliated voters at center of challenge to Kobach’s nomination

Johnson County Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker during the primary canvass last month.

The Johnson County Election Office’s decision to exclude more than 150 mail-in ballots because the signature on the envelope appeared not to match the voter signature the office had on file is a focal point in a formal challenge to Kris Kobach’s nomination as the Republican gubernatorial candidate.

Davis Hammet, a progressive activist who publishes information about Kansas politics aimed at Millennials via the Loud Light organization, on Thursday filed the objection with the Secretary of State’s office.

The complaint – which is addressed to Kobach as Secretary of State — lays out six specific allegations of violations of state voting statutes that Hammet contends could have swung the election. Kobach ended up winning the GOP nomination for governor by taking 343 more votes than Jeff Colyer.

“Numerous state statute violations, inconsistent application of the law, and unconstitutional treatment of rejected ballots resulted in a number of ballots not being counted that is significantly higher than Mr. Kobach’s 0.1% margin of victory,” Hammet writes.

Hammet said the Johnson County Election Office’s treatment of mail-in ballots because of questions about the signature on the envelope was particularly troubling. He says voters whose ballots were not counted because of issues with the envelope signature should have been notified that their votes weren’t tallied. Other counties treated such situations differently, he said.

“Your vote is less protected in Johnson County than it was in Sedgwick County, for example,” he said.

Additionally, the Johnson County Election Office’s rejection of 270 ballots cast by unaffiliated voters who did not completely or correctly fill out party affiliation documentation raises series concerns, Hammet said.

“These voters clearly showed the intent that they wanted to affiliate with a party,” Hammet said. “If you cast a ballot in the Republican primary or the Democratic primary, that’s a signal you intend to align with that party.”

Hammet’s full complaint is embedded below:

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