GOP push against ballot drop boxes hits rural places, あまりにも

GOP push against ballot drop boxes hits rural places, あまりにも
As Republicans question the security of ballot drop boxes, plenty of places stand to lose them, including small communities in Republican-leaning Kansas

Holes in the sidewalk outside Lecompton City Hall are a reminder that voters can drop their ballots in a box bolted there during elections. But as Republicans question the security of drop boxes, this small northeast カンザス town — and plenty of others — stands to lose them.

A proposal under consideration Wednesday in the GOP-controlled Kansas Senate would cut the number of drop boxes statewide by more than 40% から 2020 選挙. It’s part of a national Republican effort to tighten election laws and roll back voter conveniences adopted during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic.

The proposal would likely hit small towns like Lecompton on the outskirts of more populated places and some villages dotting rural vistas miles from the county courthouse.

With mid-term elections approaching, Republicans are appealing to supporters of former President ドナルド・トランプ, who falsely blames his 2020 election loss on widespread voter fraud.

“That would probably be ironic, that they might end up hurting some of their own base,” said Davis Hammet, leader of Loud Light, a Kansas voting-rights group. “It’s about making sure that citizens who want to vote can easily vote.

Under the bill before the Kansas Senate, counties could have no more than one box for every 30,000 registered voters — and all but 10 州の 105 counties don’t have that many. Forty-eight of the state’s counties — almost half — would have to cut back on their drop boxes. They would lose 80 の 191 boxes deployed in 2020.

Drop boxes would have to remain locked when the elections office is closed and monitored by camera or an employee.

“We’re just trying to take doubt (about electionsvalidity) out of people’s minds,” said state Sen. Rob Olson, a Kansas City-area Republican and chair of the committee that handled the measure.

Even in liberal California, drop boxes are only allowed inside government buildings and are guarded. Georgia sets a 100,000 active-voter threshold for additional drop boxes; Iowa limits them to one per county, and Idaho lawmakers are considering a ban.

But Colorado, New Jersey and Washington have set minimum numbers of drop boxes rather than limiting them, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Democrats in Congress pushed to require a drop box for every 20,000 登録有権者.

Kansas — currently without limits — averaged one box for about every 10,000 registered voters in 2020, according to data compiled by the secretary of state’s office. Nineteen counties with fewer than 5,000 registered voters had two or more in 2020.

Wabaunsee County, west of Topeka, had four drop boxes in 2020 約 5,200 登録有権者, including one outside city hall in Harveyville, 人口 178. By the shortest route, over three state highways twisting through the hills, それは 40 minutes from there to the county courthouse.

“We do have people that will call, ええと, the last day and say, ‘I didn’t get my ballot in the mail,’” said Abby Amick, the elected Republican county clerk.

More than a dozen Kansas counties — including its most populous one, Johnson County in the カンザスシティー area — wouldn’t have hit their box limits in 2020 under the bill. Thirteen, most with fewer than 3,000 登録有権者, had no drop boxes.

In Cherokee County in far southeastern Kansas, County Clerk Rebecca Brassart, an elected Republican, is skeptical that drop boxes can be secure. 火曜日に別の新記録を打ちます 14,000 登録有権者, her county was the most populous without a drop box in 2020.

She said most voters who ask for absentee ballots bring them to the county courthouse in Columbus.

“We live in small communities, but thieving is getting bad," 彼女は言いました. “If somebody wants to break into something, they’re going to break into it, 正しい?」

But Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab, a conservative Republican, said Wednesday that drop boxes are more secure than using the U.S. mail, which for Kansas communities is processed outside the state.

As for stuffing the boxes, local elections officials said, each ballot has a county code and requires a secure envelope that must have a voter’s signature that will be checked. Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew showed in a recent tour of his warehouse how it takes two people — each with a separate key at the same time — to unlock a box to collect ballots.

“The argument around it doesn’t hold up — against drop boxes,” Schwab said.

The counties set to lose drop boxes include liberal-for-Kansas bastion Douglas County in northeast Kansas, home to the main University of Kansas campus and Lecompton, 人口 588. Shew, an elected Democrat, had nine deployed, including Lecompton’s, which collected 95 ballots in the November 2020 選挙. His county would be allowed only two.

“It really hurts the outlying communities in our county," 彼は言った.

Heavily Democratic Wyandotte County in the Kansas City area would lose four of its six boxes. Its appointed election commissioner said only about 3% of the county’s registered voters used them in the 2020 総選挙.

But local voting-rights activist Connie Brown Collins argues that the county ought to have even more drop boxes because they help shift workers and people who can’t easily get to a polling place.

“We need to have greater representation, not less, in terms of voting," 彼女は言いました.


Follow John Hanna on Twitter: