TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — A plea from the President could be illegal in Kansas.
During Tuesday night’s first Presidential debate, President Trump asked supporters to keep watch at polling locations on Election Day. However, in Kansas, it is illegal for the general public to be at the polls for any reason other than to vote.
Under Kansas law, the only people allowed to observe polling locations are poll agents. These people could include:
- Chairpersons of state or county political committees
- Political candidates
- Precinct committee members
- Write-in candidates with a candidacy certificate
- Appointees from any of the above people
Only one poll agent is permitted per precinct location. The agents also need to officially file as a poll agent with the local election office.
“Anyone serving as a poll agent must carry a copy of their appointment form with them and they have to be able to produce it upon request,” explained Katie Koupal, Deputy Secretary of State for Communications and Policy. “They will also wear a badge identifying them as a poll worker and they must be a registered voter or a member of a candidates family.”
Poll agents can be as young as 14 in Kansas. According to Koupal, poll agents can be shown ballots but cannot handle any ballots. They must also maintain at least a 3 feet distance from voting booths and tables used by the election workers.
“They are not allowed to obstruct or hinder a voter when they are coming in to or out of a polling place,” said Koupal. “They cannot prevent election workers from exercising their duties.”
According to Koupal, the most common reason a poll agent may be present is to keep track of supporters for a political candidate.
“Political parties or candidates might have a list of voters likely to vote for them and so they can sit there and when a person says, ‘I’m John Smith’, they can check them off the list,” explained Koupal. “Then mid-afternoon if those folks don’t show up they can take it back to headquarters give those folks a call to encourage them to get out and vote.”
Kansas law also prevents electioneering; meaning no one can knowingly attempt to persuade or influence voters. This includes wearing shirts or pins supporting certain candidates, placing election signs or talking about candidates or the election within 250 feet of a polling location or an advanced voting site.
“That is another precaution in place to protect voters and make sure that they can safely and securely vote in person on election day,” said Koupal.
Under Kansas law, electioneering is considered a class c misdemeanor.