Kansas senators consider election bill limiting powers of governor, Secretary of State

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – A bill that would limit the powers of the governor and Secretary of State during elections is moving through the Kansas statehouse. Lawmakers in the state’s Senate Federal and State Affairs committee held a hearing on the bill Wednesday morning.

The bill would prohibit the governor, the executive branch and the judicial branch from altering election laws. It would also limit the authority of the Secretary of State from entering into consent decrees with any court without approval from the state’s legislative coordinating council.

“Most of the concern is not what happened in Kansas, but what happened elsewhere and we’re trying to prohibit that,” said Senator Larry Alley, R-Winfield.

Election officials saw a record number of mail-in ballots during the 2020 election.

While Kansas hasn’t faced issues with the election process, recent election concerns across the country have caused some Republican lawmakers to consider tightening up the state’s election laws.

Supporters of the measure said it’s a necessary step to make elections safer for Kansas.

However, some opponents of the bill said while it’s important to maintain election integrity, it’s not the legislature’s place to impose restrictions on other branches of government, seeing it as another attempt to place limits on the governor.

“I’ve served under five governors and I’ve never heard of the governor doing anything of this nature,” said Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita. “The concern is there, but I think, at this point, we may not really need that.”

Lawmakers in the committee also held a hearing for a bill that would expand the definition of election tampering in the state, making it illegal to change or attempt to change any votes cast by a paper ballot, or on electronic voting machines, as well as altering election software.

“We need to improve our voting system here, and make sure we don’t not use machines that are tied to the Internet and make people feel they don’t trust our election,” Sen. Alley said.

If the bills pass out of committee, they will move to the Senate floor for debate.

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