TOPEKA, Kan. — New election laws and an “expensive” Presidential Preference Primary are among some of the biggest changes ahead of the 2024 election.
Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab spoke with FOX4’s Kansas Capitol Bureau about what to expect, as the state plans to host the extra primary on March 19, 2024.
The move is costing taxpayers about $5 million. Schwab said it’s going to be “expensive,” but that counties are expected to be reimbursed for the extra primary.
Still, public tax dollars will be used to cover expenses. Kansas Capitol Bureau asked Schwab if he believes it’s worth the cost.
“Because whoever wins this Presidential Primary may not be on the ballot in November, I don’t think it’s a good use of resources, when we have highway capacity issues on K-10, we have K-12 always asking for more money…we have issues with higher ed…,” Schwab explained.
The Presidential Preference Primary opens up a process, which is usually run by state political parties, to all registered Democrats and Republicans next year. Unaffiliated voters would be able to participate by registering with one of the parties prior to voting.
In addition to the Primary, one of the new election laws going into effect makes a little over 100 changes to state election law, according to the Secretary of State’s office.
“A lot of this is the way we interpreted it…but the statute was never really clear…,” Schwab said.
The law, Senate Bill 22, updates outdated election provisions, but it also creates new ones. That includes limiting write-in candidates. The new law requires write-in candidates to sign an affidavit before the election to confirm interest in seeking nomination and election to that office. If they don’t, those votes will not be counted.
“A lot of people call it the Mickey Mouse provision… because people don’t like any candidates, so they write Mickey Mouse…,” Schwab said. “It’s good for a 30-second laugh, but you know, when it comes to clerks, especially sometimes they have a staff of two in some of our rural communities…it’s a lot of work.
“Anything we can do to take the pressure off of them, we definitely want to try to do,” Schwab continued.
Kansas Capitol Bureau also asked Schwab about what to expect for voter turnout next year. The 2022 Primary election drew large numbers of voters to the polls, partly tied to the abortion referendum on the ballot.
However, Schwab said it’s too soon to tell what could happen next year.
“What drives voter turnout is compelling issues and compelling candidates…and sometimes controversial issues and controversial candidates. What will happen just depends on who are the candidates running for President in 2024…,” Schwab explained.
You can watch the full interview on Inside Kansas Politics Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. on KSNT 27 News. To get the latest news on Inside Kansas Politics, check out our Twitter account or follow us on Facebook.