TOPEKA (KSNT)- Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has vetoed a bill that would get rid of the grace-period for advance voting ballots in the state.
The governor vetoed Senate Bill 209 on Wednesday, which would have required all advance voting ballots be returned by 7 p.m. on election day.
“As the daughter of a career Army officer, I cannot support measures that would disenfranchise members of our armed services – who fight for our freedoms, including the right to vote – from casting their own ballot.
This bill eliminates the three-day grace period for mail-in ballots often used by those in the military serving across the country or overseas.
It would also likely result in too many rural Kansans not having their votes counted in important elections. That is unacceptable. We should be doing everything we can to make it easier – not harder – for Kansans to make their voices heard at the ballot box.
Therefore, under Article 2, Section 14(a) of the Constitution, I hereby veto Senate Bill 209.”– Gov. Laura Kelly, (D) Kansas
The proposal was mainly backed by Republican legislators, who argue that the current three-day grace period for counting mail-in ballots “erodes” voter confidence in elections.
“We had ballots that continued to come in for three days and flipped a couple of races before it was all over, and that erodes voter confidence,” said Rep. Pat Proctor, R-Leavenworth, who carried the bill in the House during debates.
However, some democrats argued that the grace period should stand, so that mail has time to be processed at the post-office.
House Minority Leader Vic Miller, a democrat from Topeka released the following statement on Wednesday in response to the Govenor’s veto:
“I support Governor Kelly’s veto of SB 209 completely.
I got whiplash when some legislators — who voted to create the grace period only a few short years ago — also voted to remove it after seeing an increase in voter participation across the state. To me, an increase in voting is positive.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. There is a clear reason we have such an anti-democratic bill before the legislature right now: A small group of vocal loonies who can’t tolerate losing. They’re sore losers — pure and simple. They scream about voter fraud and spread disinformation. Repeated enough, people start to believe it.
Our elections are safe and secure. Let the people vote. End of story.”-Rep. Vic Miller, D-House Minority Leader
Speaker of the House Dan Hawkins, a Republican from Wichita, also responded to the Governor’s veto in a statement Wednesday.
“Kansans demand secure elections. With the Postal Service no longer post marking most mail, it is impossible to know if a late arriving ballot was mailed by Election Day. Governor Kelly’s veto continues to allow potentially illegal ballots to be counted. House Republicans will continue to work to close this loophole and secure elections.”-Rep. Dan Hawkins, R-Speaker of the House
The Senate voted to pass the bill 23-14, after the House voted 76-48 to pass the bill.
Lawmakers will return to the statehouse on April 26 for veto session. The House would need 84 votes to override the veto and 27 votes in the Senate.