Kansas Supreme Court puts same-sex marriages on hold

The Kansas Supreme Court today ordered a temporary stay of same-sex marriages in Johnson County.

Following a court challenge today by Attorney General Derek Schmidt, the Supreme Court stated that marriage license applications may be accepted during the temporary stay, but marriage licenses will not be issued during this period.

Earlier today, a Johnson County judge ordered that a marriage license may be issued to a same-sex couple. The state challenge then was filed.

The Kansas Supreme Court in its order stated it was the appropriate place to hear this case because of the different or inconsistent practices in district courts in the state.

The Kansas Supreme Court did not grant the attorney general immediate or peremptory relief that he had requested, instead it granted a temporary stay.

The Kansas Supreme Court gave respondents until 5 p.m. Oct. 21 to file a response in this case. Oral arguments were set for 10 a.m. Nov. 6 in the case.

In other action today, a lawsuit was filed by the Kansas ACLU against Douglas and Sedgwick county clerks for refusing to issue marriage applications to two same-sex couples. The ACLU also plans to file a motion for preliminary injunction.

“The ACLU of Kansas understands that the freedom to marry is an important right. Marriage equality is the law in more than 25 states now,” said Susan Estes, board president of the ACLU of Kansas, in a news release, “and it’s time for marriage equality in Kansas. All loving and committed couples – without restrictions of state lines or sexual orientation – should have access to the protections that marriage provides.”

The Kansas Supreme Court order is online at http://www.kscourts.org/State_v_Moriarty/default.asp.

Saturday advance voting planned for November election; voter registration ends Tuesday, Oct. 14

by Mary Rupert
Voter registration for the Nov. 4 general election ends Tuesday, Oct. 14, and election officials here are adding Saturday advance voting again for this election.

Election Commissioner Bruce Newby said Saturday advance voting would be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 25 and Nov. 1 at both the satellite Kansas Speedway voting place at I-70 and 110th Street and the downtown Election Office, 850 State Ave. There will also be some extended hours of advance voting in the week before the election. (See end of this story for the times and dates of advance voting.)

The three advance voting options will include voting by mail, voting in person at the Speedway site and voting at the Election Office, he said. Polls will be open on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., at 29 polling locations throughout the county.

“It’s a matter of people choosing what works best for them,” Newby said. Some voters will choose advance voting because they do not want to take off work on Election Day, while others may choose it because they will be out of town on Election Day, or they are anticipating that the weather may not be good on Election Day.

There have been some past years when there were long lines for advance voting at the Election Office, he said, and there isn’t enough space for voters to wait inside the building. Those are also considerations when voters make their decision on how to vote.

Saturday advance voting was added at the downtown Election Office for the general election after comments were made at the voting canvass that the same Saturday and extended hours should be offered downtown that are offered at the satellite Speedway office, he said.

What will guide future decisions to offer satellite voting sites and Saturday voting will be their usage, he added.

Rep. Pam Curtis said recently she plans to hold an event for voters in the downtown area on a Saturday, with details to be announced later.

Voter registration ends Tuesday, Oct. 14, at the end of the business day, and so far, there haven’t been large numbers of new voter registrations here, Newby said.

He expects turnout for the midterm elections here to be about the same as it was in the 2010 midterm election, about 39.4 percent. By contrast, the 2012 general election, a presidential year, had a 60 percent turnout here, he said.

While some areas of the country had better turnout in 2008, Wyandotte County had better turnout in the 1996 presidential election, he noted.

Of the 82,228 registered voters in Wyandotte County, there are 42,490 Democrats, 25,718 unaffiliated, 13,498 Republican, and 522 Libertarian, New by said.

There also are 1,358 voters in suspense, for all reasons, in the county, he said. That includes those who haven’t given all the information that was asked for.

In a different category, there were five to 10 people in Wyandotte County in the primary who had registered using a federal application, who were eligible to vote for federal offices only, he said. They had not submitted proof of citizenship as required by Kansas law. They were not in the poll books because they had not registered as Kansas voters, and his office was required to follow the law, he said. In these cases, only their votes for federal offices were counted.

Advance ballots are scheduled to be mailed to voters on Oct. 15. Voters may fill out an application to request a mailed ballot.

When Chad Taylor withdrew his name from the U.S. Senate seat race, there were two court challenges that have affected the schedule at the election office, according to Newby.

“It just means we’ve gotten everything late and are jumping through hoops to make sure we get the ballots out in time,” Newby said. “It has been a very compressed schedule to get everything done.”

He is confident the ballots will be ready when they are needed. The vendor who prints the ballots also prints ballots for several other counties in Kansas, and parts of Missouri, which also were ordering late, he added.

While the vendor usually prints the ballots in two to three days, by contract the vendor has 10 days to get it done, he added. He suggested printing them in phases, if it helps.

“I just told them to do what’s more efficient for them,” he said.

Ballots for voters overseas and in the military were required to be mailed in September, and Taylor’s name was left off that ballot. The election office provided an additional notice to those voters that as a result of litigation, there was no change to the ballot. It did not cause a problem for the overseas voters at all, he added.

Taylor’s name will not be on the printed ballots. Randall Batson, Libertarian, Greg Orman, independent, and Pat Roberts, Republican, will be on the ballot, along with the usual line for write-in votes, he said.

Advance voting

Advance voting is available by mail or in person at the Election Office or the satellite office at Kansas Speedway.

Those who vote by mail may request an application, apply from six months before the election until the Friday preceding the election; and receive an advance ballot that is mailed beginning Oct. 15. Ballots must be returned to the Election Office before polls close.

The Election Office, 850 State Ave., will be open for advance voting:
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 21, to Friday, Oct. 24;
8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 27, through Friday, Oct. 31;
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25, and Nov. 1.

The satellite site at the Kansas Speedway, I-70 and 110h Street, will be open for touchscreen voting only:
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25, and Nov. 1;
10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 27, through Friday, Oct. 31.

For more information visit www.wycovotes.org, www.wycokck.org/election, or call 913-573-8500.