On your ballot: the Kansas constitutional amendment

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — It’s Election Day in Kansas and on the ballot is a possible change to the way the state counts people who live here.

For over a century, Kansas has completed a census adjustment every 10 years. The census adjustment requires members of the military and college students to choose in what county they would like to be counted. Originally, county appraisers would get in contact with these people but in 1980 it was decided that the Secretary of State’s office would take over the census adjustment.

Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab said the process unnecessarily costs the state more than $830,000 every 10 years and actually has little impact on the state census.

“The last time it moved maybe 20,000 people in a state of 3 million,” says Schwab. “It didn’t move district lines. The legislature still writes district lines.”

Schwab also says the cost to complete the census adjustment will likely continue to go up.

“It may be more in a day with more cellphones than what there was 10 years ago. So it’s harder to track these people down but by the constitution, we have to do it,” said Schwab.

In March of 2019, a constitutional amendment that would get rid of the Kansas census adjustment was introduced to the Kansas Senate where it passed with a unanimous vote of 40-0. It was then introduced to the Kansas House of Representatives and passed with a vote of 117-7.

Now, the choice is left to Kansans.

“A yes vote today says, ‘We’re gonna strike that. We’re gonna use U.S. census numbers, like every other state in the union does’,” said Schwab. “That way the number is the number is the number. It’s the number they use for the federal seats, it’s the number they use for the state school boards, it’s the number they use for the legislature.”

If the amendment passes, Kansas would join the rest of the U.S. in only using the federal census. Secretary Schwab says this will greatly cut down on the time it will take to draw new legislative district lines.

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