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Kansas has almost 138,000 inactive voters

By   /   October 25, 2010  /   7 Comments

Voter registration data show 137,732 of 1.7 million Kansas voters are “inactive” (8 percent) because they have not voted recently and may have invalid mailing addresses.

Large counties often have high inactive rates:  Johnson (8 percent), Sedgwick (4.4 percent), Shawnee (8.5 percent), Wyandotte (9.6 percent).

But the highest inactive rates are in:  Chautauqua (22 percent), Cherokee (20 percent), and Riley (17 percent).

Before the August primary, Brad Bryant, Chief Election Officer for Kansas, explained:

If an inactive voter attempts to vote at the address where they were registered before being made inactive, the law allows them to do so and does not require the ballot to be provisional. In this case, poll workers have enough information to determine that the person is a registered voter in the election district served by that polling place. If there is a question about the person’s qualifications, they are authorized to make the ballot provisional.

Statistics about inactive voters don’t tell the whole story about what’s happening in a county.

“We’re trying,” was Cammie Farner’s response in a telephone interview earlier this year about the high percentage of inactive voters in her county in southeast Kansas along the Oklahoma border. She is the Chautauqua County Clerk, with a small staff.

Chautauqua County’s 22 percent is down slightly from 24.2 percent in December 2009.  But Farner explained then the high inactive percentage is an indication she was doing her job diligently because it takes several years to fix such issues due to federal laws.

[Updated Nov. 8, 2010] Crystal Gatewood, Cherokee County Clerk, said the problem with 20 percent inactive voter rate in  Cherokee County existed before she came into office in 2009.  Gatewood says her office works hard to identify inactive voters but removal of any voters is restricted by federal law.  Cherokee County shares borders with both Missouri and Oklahoma, which may explain a higher rate of inactive voters with people moving both ways across the state lines.

Norton and Wichita Counties report no inactive voters.  This is not necessarily good since the process to remove voters takes years, and making a voter inactive starts the removal process.

The inactive rate in nearby Missouri is 11.5 percent.

Inactive voters at your address?

“Extra” voters, the inactive ones, are registered at approximately 1 out of every 8 households in Kansas.

To be exact, 110,974 households in Kansas have one or more inactive voters, while 881,006 households consist of only active voters.  Kansas has about 933,464 households for its 1.7 million voters.

These inactive voters are usually past residents who have moved on, but not always.

In Jan 2004, a “Charles Brian Bradford” registered to vote at the same address as the then Johnson County Sheriff Currie Myers. Sheriff Myers complained to the then Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison.  Morrison did nothing and this person was registered to vote at Myers’ home address until 2007.

Eight representatives in the Kansas House currently have inactive voters registered at their h0me address, including Lisa Benlon (District 22), J. Robert Brookens (District 70), Tommy Burroughs (District 33), Connie O’Brien (District 42), Louis Ruiz (District 32), Arlen Siegfried (District 15), and Michael Slattery (District 24). In 5 of these 8 cases the voters are adult children who have not voted in years but are still listed on the voting rolls.

Four Kansas senators also have inactive voters listed at their home address.

Former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who is now Health and Human Services secretary, maintains a residence in Topeka.  There is an inactive voter at that address who has not voted since 2006.

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// Kansas Active/Inactive Voters by County


See KSHB’s “Grave Concerns” about voter registration issues in Kansas and Missouri.

Contact: Earl F Glynn, earl@kansaswatchdog.org, KansasWatchdog.org